LONDON. — Leicester will not be looking forward to another meeting with Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean’s brilliant hat-trick inspired Arsenal to their emphatic 5-2 win at the King Power Stadium in September, and he will be central to their hopes of closing the gap on Claudio Ranieiri’s side on Sunday.
Sanchez’s goals that afternoon were his first of the season after an eight-game scoreless run, and Arsene Wenger declared him “back at his best” in his post-match press conference.
The Arsenal manager was vindicated as the 27-year-old embarked on a run of 10 goals in six games for club and country, including a double in the Gunners’ 3-0 win over Manchester United.
The season has taken plenty of twists and turns since then, but there are parallels between the two encounters for Sanchez, who is once again bidding to rediscover his best form. He did find the net in Arsenal’s recent FA Cup win over Burnley, but has gone eight league games without scoring — a drought punctuated by a two-month injury lay-off between November and January.
Sanchez struggled to make an impact in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Bournemouth on Sunday, but there have been encouraging signs since he returned to the side with a lively cameo in their 1-0 defeat by Chelsea on January 24, and Wenger saw his time out as a blessing in disguise after a gruelling summer of Copa America duty with Chile.
“He’s had a long rest now,” the Arsenal manager said after Sanchez struck the winning goal against Burnley. “When he got injured, you could see signs of fatigue but two months rest I think is a good winter break.”
The benefits were certainly plain to see against Southampton, who somehow escaped the Emirates Stadium with a goalless draw despite dazzling displays by Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
“He’s one of the players who is difficult to stop because they have such high qualities,” Ronald Koeman said of Sanchez.
“He’s fast, and technically, he’s perfect.”
Sanchez’s elite technical quality is only half of what he brings. His tireless, all-action playing style rubs off on his team-mates, and Wenger has talked up his leadership, too. — Sky Sports.