As the ‘Sanchez Replacement Thread’ sparks hundreds of comments on Reddit and discussions on when to get rid of the Chilean start trending on Twitter, I sometimes wonder if decision making in FPL is being continuously altered, almost controlled, by the crowd.
Forget #WengerOut, at the time of writing this, close to 45,000 Fantasy Premier League managers have already pulled the trigger on #SanchezOut. This decrease in ownership will take further dips before the Gameweek 33 deadline, stemming the question, even for the most loyal or stubborn Sanchez owners; ‘is it really time to get rid?’
According to our FPL Form Tracker, he’s totaled just seven points over the last three gameweeks. There’s no disputing that’s a dreadful output by his standards and with that price tag, but is using this slump as the prime justification to sell him really a solid basis to work from?
Below I will discuss some factors which stand strong for Sanchez’s potential for the rest of the season, many of which were blown out of the window as the selling bandwagon left the station.
He’s still Alexis Sanchez
Can you name a Premier League player who’s better than Sanchez? Nope, that’s because there isn’t one, and it doesn’t just end in England’s top flight, he remains one of the biggest threats in world football.
Now that’s away from the topic of course, but it’s also completely valid. Do you want a player of this caliber in your FPL squad? Unless you’re completely deluded, the answer is yes. It’s just a case of sticking with him through the good (8 double-figure hauls), the bad (12 blanks) and the ugly (just watch Arsenal’s trip to Palace).
It’s a valid argument that even the highest quality of players will struggle if their teammates are not up to par, however, Sanchez is not your normal guy. He might struggle in the short-term, but his tenacity, his aggression, his drive, all channel into a self-motivated character who is capable of upping the ante without a helping hand.
He’s still the highest scoring player on Fantasy Premier League
As touched upon earlier, Sanchez has hit a double-figure points total on eight occasions this season, five of which came after a blank and a couple following a double blank. I don’t like the figure of speech that a player is due, although it’s proof that he’s been in similar positions before and he sure knows how to snap out of it.
Sanchez has scored 18 goals and assisted on nine occasions in the Premier League this season. That’s a direct contribution to 44% of Arsenal’s goals, a stunning production and evidence that he’s still the main man at the club.
For comparison, Hazard has contributed to 29% of his side’s goals. This is by no means a dig, as Chelsea have a handful of quality players who chip in regularly, but it doesn’t change the fact that if Arsenal and Chelsea score, Sanchez is the most likely to benefit.
He’s still classified as a midfielder
The theory that Sanchez is fruitless from wide positions is largely misleading. Yes, he’s failed to put the points on the board in recent weeks, which is a lazy way of making a point, nevertheless, if you search a bit deeper you’ll find that his underlying stats are excellent.
Let’s look at his last four gameweeks, the period of time in which Sanchez has been pinned to the flank and received the most flak all season. He still ranks first for passes received (134) and touches (185) inside the final third, when compared to everyone in the Fantasy Premier League game. Not bad for someone who’s been frequently described as ‘uninvolved’ when playing on the left wing.
Although if Sanchez lines up at CF against Middlesbrough this weekend, his label of being ‘the most valuable FPL player’ returns and everyone that sold him will be pulling their hair out. Is it really worth selling up, just because Arsene Wenger might remain stubborn? It worked with Sanchez as striker at the start of the season, and it’s not working now… so why not!
Looking at the table above (created by the excellent @FPLStatto), in an ideal world Sanchez will return to CF after Welbeck and Giroud failed to produce the goods in recent weeks. This would be huge for his potential, although even if Wenger decides otherwise, we’ve already established that Sanchez in midfield is hardly a wasted resource.
He’s still got everything to play for
Arsenal still have everything to play for (honestly, when do they not!). It’s become an annual occurrence for them to crash out of the Champions League early doors, diminish their title hopes and then bounce back to life just in time to clinch a top four finish… so they can do it all again next season!
With this in mind and their current position, Arsene Wenger’s treasured finish is under threat, which means no rest for Sanchez, whereas some of his competition have the chance to put their feet up.
One of the most popular transfers is Sanchez > Hazard. Unlike Sanchez who will certainly be competing to the end, Hazard might be handed some recovery time if Chelsea manage to wrap up the title with games to spare.
I mean the likes of Nathan Ake have to appear in five matches to qualify for a winners medal! Obviously, John Terry has already reached the minimum appearances, allowing him to mix in with the lads and experience a sense of belonging.
Back to the topic and another motivating factor for Sanchez is that he’s laying the foundation for his future. With 16 months left on his contract, you’d think that pushing for Champions League football would be his primary aim, however, the way contracts work nowadays, it’s also another chance to put his name in the shop window, with seemingly every big club interested in his services.
He’s still got two Double Gameweeks
Perhaps the hardest part for people dumping Sanchez is the reality that he’s got a couple of double gameweeks still to come. This should not be taken lightly, and in my opinion, removing a player with extra fixtures is not the smartest idea, especially if he’s increased in value under your ownership.
If at a later date, or if Sanchez finds his feet versus Middlesbrough in the upcoming gameweek, you will regret taking apart your squad and losing team value to replace him with a premium forward, only to carry out major surgery to get him back in.
The possible scenarios for Arsenal’s extra Double Gameweek came to light thanks to the FPL blank and DGW guru Ben Crellin and it has now been confirmed that Arsenal will host Man United on Sunday 7th May, before travelling to St Mary’s to face Southampton on Wednesday 10th May – both fixtures included in Gameweek 36.
Man United & Southampton are defensively stable away and home respectively, but the fact Arsenal and Southampton are the only clubs with a DGW, means Sanchez will likely be the number one captain candidate in this gameweek.
Taking all of the above into account, this is the confirmed schedule for the remainder of the Fantasy Premier League season:
As you can see Arsenal and Sanchez have a very attractive run in, with an away trip to White Hart Lane being the most prominent obstacle.
As ever with FPL, your decision to hold or sell the big names will determine your fate. It’s the same story with Sanchez, but looking at those fixtures my squad feels more complete with him than without.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Alexis Sanchez, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.