• Premier League

Wenger: Sanchez is a striker

ESPN staff
August 2, 2014
Alexis Sanchez joined from Barcelona for £35 million © Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that he intends to deploy his high-profile summer signing Alexis Sanchez as a striker in the upcoming season.

Wenger surprised some Arsenal supporters when he stated earlier this month that he has no intention of signing another forward, even though his attacking line looked a little weak last season with Olivier Giroud and Yaya Sanogo as his lead marksmen.

Sanchez, who signed from Barcelona last month for £35 million, has often been utilised as a winger throughout his career, but Wenger believes the Chile star can thrive in a more central role.

"He is a striker and he's a good finisher," Wenger told Arsenal's official website. "He made a great impression in Italy [with Udinese] - I saw him there and he was really outstanding.

"Then at Barcelona it was a bit more difficult, but it's like you could see with Neymar at Barcelona, because there you have Lionel Messi. You see Neymar with Brazil and Neymar with Barcelona and it's not the same. I like the fact he can play left, right, up front and that's why I went for him.

"At the moment I want to see him in both positions, but I took him because he is a player who has the qualities of [Theo] Walcott, he goes behind the defenders off the ball. And with the quality of his runs he can be very important for us."

Wenger successfully converted Thierry Henry into a potent leading striker after signing him as a winger, with the Frenchman going on to become the club's all-time record goalscorer.

Sanchez came on as a substitute in the second half of Arsenal's 5-1 victory over Benfica in the Emirates Cup on Saturday, with striker Yaya Sanogo scoring four goals in the win.

The France Under-21 striker did not manage to find the net in any of his 14 appearances last season, having joined from Auxerre on a free transfer but seeing his progress hampered by a back problem.

As Sanchez watched from the bench, Sanogo produced a clinical display as he bagged a first-half hat-trick while Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell, back from a loan spell at Olympiakos, also impressed, scoring his first goal in an Arsenal shirt to suggest Wenger already has plenty of attacking options rather than needing to spend big again.

Wenger had named a mixed side, which included teenager Calum Chambers, the £16 million-signing from Southampton, lining up in defence along with Spanish youngster Hector Bellerin, while the likes of Sanchez, France full-back Mathieu Debuchy - purchased from Newcastle - and England midfielder Jack Wilshere on all the bench.

Arsenal's German World Cup winning trio Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Mesut Ozil are not scheduled to be involved until after the FA Community Shield against Manchester City at Wembley next weekend, with Crystal Palace the first opponents when the action starts for real on August 16.

Benfica had made a bright start, with Nicolas Gaitan floating a shot onto the top of the crossbar, with reserve goalkeeper Damian Martinez beaten.

Yaya Sanogo grabbed a first-half hat-trick © PA Photos

Campbell spooned a volley wide from Ramsey's chipped through ball and then Sanogo stabbed a low cross from Bellerin past the near post.

Sanogo, however, did find his range on 26 minutes, flicking the ball past Moraes Artur after Ramsey had spun into the Benfica half and swept down the right flank.

Benfica rallied briefly, but were 2-0 down on 40 minutes. This time it was 19-year-old right-back Bellerin, on loan at Watford for a spell last season, who scampered away, before exchanging a neat one-two with Sanogo. He then picked out Campbell arriving at pace into the left side of the penalty area, and he drilled a fine left-foot volley into the bottom corner.

Arsenal extended their lead on the stroke of half-time, with Sanogo knocking in a pass from Campbell as the Benfica defence pushed up and called for offside.

Sanogo completed his hat trick in first-half stoppage time, hooking the ball home from Kieran Gibbs' left-wing cross.

The former Auxerre forward - whose career in France was interrupted by a broken leg - chalked up his fourth at the start of the second half, slotting past Artur after Ramsey's shot was saved.

Following substitutions by both teams, Benfica netted a consolation goal on 61 minutes, Gaitan heading in after Arsenal failed to deal with a long throw.

Chile forward Sanchez, signed from Barcelona, was introduced to rapturous applause when he replaced Campbell with 15 minutes left.

Benfica captain Maxi Pereira struck the post, as did Arsenal substitute Francis Coquelin late on from Sanchez' cut-back as the closing stages were played out at a low tempo.

In the earlier kick-off, Monaco twice came from behind to draw 2-2 against Valencia. Colombia striker Radamel Falcao, who missed the World Cup because of a serious knee injury, made an appearance off the bench for Monaco in the closing stages, his first since January.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
ESPN staff Close