Arsenal should be furious with the Chilean superstar
The conflict between Alexis Sanchez and Arsenal now extends well beyond manager Arsene Wenger. The Chilean’s decision to laugh on the bench yesterday requires the club to a strong stand against their player’s behavior.
In case you somehow missed it, Alexis was spotted laughing on the bench during his club’s 5-1 throttling against Bayern Munich yesterday. Arsenal suffered from one of the largest defeats in Champions League history by losing 10-2 to the Bundesliga giants.
Diehard supporters of the Gunners will explain Alexis’ laughter as an expression of his frustration. There was certainly plenty to be frustrated about. The club gave up five goals in a row to Bayern after Theo Walcott’s first half tally. Alexis certainly didn’t help matters. There’s a reason he found himself on the bench in the second half.
If this was an isolated incident then Arsenal would be wise to ignore it. Unfortunately, it’s not. Alexis’ ridiculous bench decorum comes only days after he was left on the bench in a crucial Premier League match at Liverpool. Wenger originally claimed it was a tactical decision, but it’s clear now that it was a punishment of Alexis’ poor attitude in training.
To follow up that sort of incident with laughter during one of the darkest moments in your club’s history is entirely unacceptable. I can’t imagine how any Arsenal fan could ever believe that Alexis cares at all about the crest on the front of his Gunners kit. He’s clearly a mercenary at best.
Perhaps it hasn’t always been that way. Alexis certainly enjoyed playing at Arsenal for a time. That time has clearly passed now. As it stands, it doesn’t seem as if he can be bothered to play with his 10 teammates at any time.
If I were in charge of Arsenal, I’d remove that burden from his shoulders. If he’s determined to leave the club this summer I’d hasten his departure. More specifically, I wouldn’t play him in another match for the rest of the season.
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Benching him like that would send a message to the rest of the players on the squad. No individual can be bigger than the club. Even a prodigious talent like Alexis must submit to the spirit of the collective.
I’m well aware that banishing Alexis could hurt the club. His absence could be the difference between Champions League and Europa League competition next season. Freezing him out of the team could also lower his transfer price in the summer.
Those are risks that Arsenal should be willing to take. It’s also very possible the spirit around the team could be buoyed without the weight of Alexis’ antics. The team could easily play better without him in the short-term.
It’s time for Arsenal to step up and make a strong statement as a club. Alexis’ antics can’t go unpunished. He should have played his last minute in a Gunners shirt yesterday.