Published On: Tue, Mar 13th, 2018

How has Sanchez fared in his opening 10 Manchester United matches?

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The mood at Manchester United‘s Carrington base must have been euphoric after purloining Alexis Sanchez from under the nose of local foe City. The Premier League leader apparently had a financial package in place for the Arsenal forward’s transfer, but United sneaked in during the final days of the January window to wrest Sanchez from Pep Guardiola’s grasp.

Now, with the marquee swoop 10 matches old after Tuesday’s Champions League elimination to Sevilla, it seems a convenient juncture to assess Sanchez’s impact at Old Trafford. Has his arrival lifted United to a new level of competitiveness, or has it proved detrimental to both Jose Mourinho’s tactical plans and his front-line contingent?

Here’s a game-by-game analysis and conclusion of Sanchez’s efforts, starting with his debut in the FA Cup:

Jan. 26: 4-0 win vs. Yeovil Town (away)


The audiences at daytime TV shows are easily pleased. Each vanilla opinion aired by a panel member is met with a chorus of whoops. It seemed that viewing party was the only one to watch Sanchez’s debut at Huish Park, which was met with rave reviews. Yes, he evaded assaults of his kneecaps with class and was lively, but this was League Two struggler Yeovil. The hype was overblown. It was a kind initiation.

Minutes played 72
Goals 0
Assists 1
Key passes 6
Take-ons completed 1
Loss of possession 4

Rating: 8/10

Jan. 31: 2-0 loss vs. Tottenham Hotspur (away)


Tottenham, in the midst of an intimidating yet ultimately fruitful spate of fixtures, outclassed United at Wembley. Sanchez was strangely both busy and anonymous – finishing only second to Ashley Young in touches made by United players – but his difficult outing was mercifully obscured by the substitution of Paul Pogba after just over an hour.

Minutes played 94
Goals 0
Assists 0
Key passes 0
Take-ons completed 1
Loss of possession 7

Rating: 5/10

Feb. 3: 2-0 win vs. Huddersfield Town (home)


The best player on the park. Jonas Lossl did well to swat at Sanchez’s penalty with a strong right palm, but the Chilean gobbled up the scraps with a composed chip over the beached goalkeeper. His dribbling was majestic, with one right-footed shot coming after an excellent pilfering of space. The only blemish on his work was a yellow card for a petulant swipe at Florent Hadergjonaj.

Minutes played 94
Goals 1
Assists 0
Key passes 3
Take-ons completed 9
Loss of possession 10

Rating: 9/10

Feb. 11: 1-0 loss vs. Newcastle United (away)


Sanchez was arguably the best of a bad bunch in Newcastle, but he still fell victim to a well-drilled outfit. He misplaced over a third of his passes at St James’ Park, and only hit one shot on target despite being invitingly selected opposite DeAndre Yedlin. This was the first match that drew real questions over how Sanchez would fit in at United; Anthony Martial was awkwardly deployed on the right, and it was difficult to envision a prompt return to the lineup for sidelined Marcus Rashford.

Minutes played 95
Goals 0
Assists 0
Key passes 2
Take-ons completed 5
Loss of possession 7

Rating: 6/10

Feb. 17: 2-0 win vs. Huddersfield Town (away)


Huddersfield was starting to take control as the break neared, and Sanchez was worryingly fading into the background. But you can’t leave him untended, and his stunning pass to Romelu Lukaku doubled United’s advantage 10 minutes into the second period. It was a merciless counter-attack. The following day, The Sun’s Mike McGrath tried to make a link between Pogba’s apparent struggles and the signing of Sanchez.

Minutes played 75
Goals 0
Assists 1
Key passes 1
Take-ons completed 3
Loss of possession 7

Rating: 7/10

Feb. 21: 0-0 draw vs. Sevilla (away)


The main criticism levelled at Sanchez is how he can be careless in possession, but even when he was at his worst for this habit – see his first meeting with Huddersfield – his bobbled touches were masked by his other exploits. When he lost the ball at Sevilla, however, it continually ended rare chances to attack. It was a dull match, and Sanchez was a “liability in possession,” according to the Manchester Evening News’ Samuel Luckhurst, who gave the player a four-out-of-10 rating.

Minutes played 75
Goals 0
Assists 0
Key passes 1
Take-ons completed 3
Loss of possession 8

Rating: 6/10

Feb. 25: 2-1 win vs. Chelsea (home)


Sanchez was shunted to the right to accommodate for Martial’s selection on the left in Chelsea‘s visit. He missed a good chance to register on the scoresheet in the opening stanza, but played two probing passes and harried Blues players in the buildup to Lukaku’s equaliser. Although that was the bulk of Sanchez’s productivity on the day, he was less wasteful with the ball.

Minutes played 75
Goals 0
Assists 0
Key passes 1
Take-ons completed 1
Loss of possession 4

Rating: 6/10

March 5: 3-2 win vs. Crystal Palace (away)


Sanchez courted criticism once more as United overturned a 2-0 deficit to dramatically win 3-2 at Selhurst Park. The Daily Mail’s Dan Ripley claimed Sanchez lost the ball 19 times in the first half alone, but the MEN’s Luckhurst said it eventually turned into “maybe his best performance since his debut at League Two Yeovil.” Was that a back-handed compliment? If Sanchez wanted to temporarily silence any doubters, the following match against Liverpool offered an opportune moment.

Minutes played 94
Goals 0
Assists 0
Key passes 1
Take-ons completed 5
Loss of possession 9

Rating: 6/10

March 10: 2-1 win vs. Liverpool (home)


It was the same old story as Sanchez buzzed around and seemed to enjoy working behind Lukaku, but provided little to suggest Jesse Lingard or the injured Martial wouldn’t have enjoyed greater influence in the win over Liverpool. Mourinho offered excuses for Sanchez in the buildup to the game, claiming his signing was unsettled by joining in the middle of the campaign and saying, “he is learning how to play with us and we are learning how to get the best out of him.”

Minutes played 96
Goals 0
Assists 0
Key passes 2
Take-ons completed 2
Loss of possession 2

Rating: 6/10

March 13: 2-1 loss vs. Sevilla (home)


After being widely credited for his tactical approach against Liverpool, Mourinho’s designs unravelled against Sevilla. Rashford played so well on the left against Liverpool, but was shoved to the right so Sanchez could play on his favoured left-hand side. It was a flat showing, and he repeatedly went on head-down charges into dead ends. Once again, Sanchez’s ineffectiveness will be largely obscured by the issues elsewhere, such as Mourinho’s decision to start Marouane Fellaini over Pogba.

Minutes played 95
Goals 0
Assists 0
Key passes 5
Take-ons completed 3
Loss of possession 3

Rating: 4/10

How has Sanchez done in his first 10 matches?


The comments (or, indeed, excuses) that Mourinho made for Sanchez’s slow start prior to the win over Liverpool were entirely apt. It must be difficult to adopt the philosophy of a different manager and at a different club halfway through the campaign, especially when things often appeared so lax under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

But for a player of Sanchez’s pedigree and salary – he’s apparently on around £350,000 a week – shouldn’t he be able to influence more than two of his opening 10 matches? Sanchez’s numbers don’t reflect his ability and work ethic, and if there aren’t any discernible improvements from him next season he will only be pardoned by Mourinho for so long.

Maybe there’s an argument that Sanchez simply doesn’t suit Mourinho’s game plan. The Chilean regularly played like an individual at Arsenal, but at Manchester United he is being moulded into another tool tasked with sitting deep and preying on opposition errors. Is this the right environment for Sanchez to thrive?

Minutes played 865
Goals per 90 mins 0.1
Assists per 90 mins 0.2
Key passes per 90 mins 2.4
Take-ons completed per 90 mins 3.3
Loss of possession per 90 mins 6.1

Rating: 6.3/10

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)



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