Why Alexis Sanchez is the most important forward in the EPL

Almost every Arsenal fan’s favourite player now is Alexis Sanchez. He’s good! Actually very good but everyone knows that. There was a piece recently saying Alexis has won Arsenal 30% of the clubs points on his own this season. In this piece, I’ll demonstrate why he’s so much more than just a goal scorer and how he probably is the most important striker/forward in the league for any club.

Sanchez has scored nine goals in fourteen Premier League appearances and fourteen goals in all competitions this season. That’s pretty good as we’ve just entered December. But what are some statistics that many fans may not know?

The top four scorers in the Premier League this season have been Sergio Aguero (14 goals), Diego Costa (11), Sanchez (9) and Charlie Austin (8). For every goal each player has scored, Alexis has been much more efficient in his shooting than both Austin and Aguero who have scored a goal on average every 5.33 and 5.28 shots respectively. Diego Costa has scored a goal on average every 3.63 shots, whilst Alexis has averaged a goal every 4.55 shots in the Premier League this season. A further way to compare these strikers is on goals per minute played. Alexis Sanchez has scored a goal every 126.88 minutes, Austin a goal every 149.25 minutes, Costa has averaged a goal every 91.55 minutes and Aguero has staggeringly averaged a goal every 75.21 minutes.

The category where Sanchez stands out the most is in the key passes (passes which create a goal scoring opportunity) category. Currently, Alexis sits 6th in the Premier League, averaging 2.7 key passes per match. Sanchez is the only forward in the top ten. The other nine are midfield players, which is to be largely expected. The next player who plays as a striker is ranked 23rd in this category. That player is fellow Arsenal player, Danny Welbeck. Welbeck averages 1.8 key passes per match, as does Diego Costa with Welbeck sitting higher due to playing less minutes.

The little Chilean is also known as a player who loves to dribble at opponents. This is confirmed by the statistics. Currently, Sanchez leads the league (for all forwards) for average number of dribbles per match. He averages 5.7 dribbles per match with an average of just over half being successful (2.9 successful per match to 2.8 unsuccessful). The next highest in the league are Loic Remy and Sergio Aguero, who both average 5.5 dribbles per match. Remy averages only 2.5 successful dribbles per match, whilst Aguero averages 3.1 per match.

Alexis Sanchez running with the ball

Alexis Sanchez running with the ball

Additionally, Alexis’ passing statistics outweigh all but one forward in the league, Wayne Rooney. Rooney has averaged 51 passes per match but has also played several matches in midfield. During the 2014/15 EPL season, Sanchez has averaged 45 passes per match, which just emphasises his importance to Arsenal. Sanchez also averages a 76.7% success rate for his passes with almost a third (32%) of his passes of his passes going forward.

As all Arsenal fans would know, Alexis constantly works his butt off in the defensive phase when the opposition have the ball. This is highlighted by two statistics, tackles and interceptions. Once again, Alexis Sanchez leads the league for forwards in average tackles per match (for players who’ve played more than 90 minutes this season). Sanchez averages 1.9 tackles per match (27 tackles this season), with Leceister’s Leonardo Ulloa next best, averaging 1.8 per match.

In the interceptions category, the diminutive Chilean is the 3rd highest forward in the league in this category, averaging 1.1 interceptions per match. The two players above him are Burnley’s Ashley Barnes who averages 1.5 interceptions per match and West Ham’s Diafra Sakho who averages 1.3 interceptions. Both Barnes and Sakho have both played substantially less minutes for their sides than Sanchez.

Conclusion

In a lot of the categories, Alexis Sanchez is very high up for his position. Many Arsenal fans realise his importance to the club but as mentioned above, from these statistics, he is probably the most important player for his position in the league. He’s not only great with the ball but excellent without it as well.


All statistics are from WhoScored and are correct as at 7/12/14.

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