Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour believes Alexis Sanchez can thrive as a lone striker for the club, following the leg injury to Olivier Giroud which could rule the Frenchman out until December.
With most of his 19 league goals for Barcelona last season coming from the right wing, some questioned how wise it was for Arsene Wenger to experiment with the Chilean international up top, with a poor 45th-minute outing in the weekend’s 2-2 draw with Everton compounding such scepticism.
However, after a starring performance in the same role saw him net the crucial winning-goal in the second-leg of their Champions League qualification tie at home to Besiktas, Parlour is adamant the experiment will work in the Premier League, citing his perseverance at the World Cup as evidence.
‘It’s a different league. He’s not used to the hustle-bustle of the Premier League,’ he told Sky Sports. ‘I think [Mesut] Ozil had that problem and we’ve probably not seen the best of him yet either.
‘I think Sanchez, though, in that World Cup itself the referees were letting a lot go and he was getting kicked off the park in some games.
‘But he was one of those characters who kept getting up and kept trying to play his football, so that shows he can cope, and he’ll maybe even get a little bit more protection in the Premier League.
‘But he’s certainly going to be a really lively player, and I know for a fact that, training-wise, he’s been excellent.
‘He’s really settled in quickly and we’ll see as the season goes on that he gets better and better in his new role.’
With high expectations coming with his price tag, Sanchez will face even more pressure to perform from the get-go if Wenger fails to bring in help during the closing stages of the transfer window to compensate for Giroud’s absence.
Nevertheless, as he demonstrated last season at Barca and in Brazil this summer, the former Udinese man is a star more than capable of producing game-changing moments of skill, and one shouldn’t think it will take long for him to grow accustomed to the English game.