Walcott injured his anterior cruciate ligament against north London rivals Tottenham in January and has only just started training with the first team squad. The Englishman’s delayed start to the season means that Sanchez could find himself deployed from a wide position.
The French manager has stated that he may opt to deploy the the Chilean international on the right wing as Walcott continues his recovery.
Speaking to Arsenal’s official website, he said:
The fact that he’s efficient, the fact that he’s good off the ball. He runs at people with the ball and he’s a very versatile striker.
He can play through the middle, he can play on both flanks and he has the qualities that I think are needed in England. He’s brave, works hard and all these qualities together made me go for him.
At the moment he might play on the flank because Walcott is injured. As well [he can play] through the middle in some games; we can play with Giroud, we can play without Giroud in a 4-4-2 or in a 4-3-3.
That’s why he is a major signing for us [and] that’s why we spend a lot of money on him. He has the quality to be efficient everywhere he plays.
We have seen at the World Cup the South American teams have shown a great passion, great desire and true love for the game. That is a very important quality in the success of a player.
Sanchez didn’t always thrive for Barcelona when forced out onto the right wing, but did flourish in a two-pronged strike force for Chile at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, alongside Eduardo Vargas. The Chilean may not be a classic striker, but neither was Thierry Henry when Wenger brought him in from the wing and made him a star.
If Wenger deploys Sanchez as a striker, he would be much more effective. He could drop off into a No. 10 position when Arsenal don’t have the ball, which would create five in midfield and also position him perfectly for a counter attack. He could also drift out of the middle to the wings, timing his movement to match a run into the middle from either Cazorla or Ozil. He could work with Olivier Giroud, who would remain a natural focal point around which all of the runners would move and play.
Alternatively, Wenger could partner Sanchez and Theo Walcott through the middle, which would encourage even greater fluidity. He would be the vital man in this new look alignment and all of the midfield would make their runs reacting to his movement. His signing is a sign that Wenger might return to the 4-4-2 formation, which the Gunners implemented to great effect few years back when they played the best football in the Premier League.
For now though it appears Sanchez will fill Walcott’s void and inject some much needed pace into the side.
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