All summer Arsenal fans clamored for Arsene Wenger to sign up a big-name striker to replace Olivier Giroud as the focal point of the Arsenal attack. Instead Wenger decided that he already had the world-class striker than the Arsenal fans wanted, in Alexis Sacchez. And the stats show that Chile international is a much better option than the French international.
With Alexis up-front the Gunners move the ball quicker, averaging 222.6 accurate passes per goal. With Giroud up front, that number rises to 288.7 passes per goal.
There’s also the reality that the Chilean is simply a better striker. Even beyond his superior finishing and more devastating range of abilities, there are the raw numbers. Since the start of last season Alexis has averaged a goal or assist every 88.2 minutes in the Premier League when playing as the primary forward, compared to Giroud’s 116.2. He also creates a chance every 31.1 minutes, against the French striker’s 64, and has a superior conversion rate of 21.1% to 15.3%.
With those kind of stats and these kind of performances, it actually seems so obvious to put Sanchez as the number-one striker.
“Now game after game he is growing into this position and getting better and better,” Wenger said recently.
It’s very difficult to argue that it does not make Arsenal a better team. Of course, some of this is helped by the fact the side currently find themselves in one of the Wenger grooves that is an inevitable but only temporary consequence of how he coaches, when everyone is playing off each other with glorious confidence.
It remains to be seen how they adapt when there is a disruption, or they hit a road block, but that seems like it might be the big question for this campaign. As it is, Wenger seems like he might have found one solution to a big problem. It was standing – or perhaps running – in front of him the whole time.