Common question I get on twitter is “why doesn’t Arsene put (insert player) wide and let Alexis have the CF role?” This is sometimes followed by “then Arsenal don’t have to buy a CF.”
I’m not criticizing this question, at all. It’s a great question and one which I have wondered for at least two seasons. I love seeing a player like Alexis getting in behind defenders, popping up with shots inside the 18 yard box, and causing havoc in the opposition defense.
But what if Alexis is in exactly the role he wants to be in? I think the evidence points to that rather than Wenger forcing him wide.
For Chile he plays in the exact position he plays for Arsenal: collecting the ball deep on the left, taking on defenders, cutting back on his right, playing in crosses from wide, finding teammates with through balls, and of course turning the ball over a lot. For Chile plays that role with a forward in front of him, Vargas and for Arsenal he’s got Welbeck, Walcott, Giroud, and even Özil making cuts in front.
It’s not a coincidence that the Alexis to Özil was the second most assisted (5) combination in the League. Alexis was handed the playmaker duties this season at Arsenal, handed or simply took them, either way he was Arsenal’s most creative player from open play.
I suspect Alexis is just the kind of guy who wants the ball all the time. If he played as a CF he would have to be content with probably half as many touches. Maybe he would score more or maybe he would turn the ball over more and frustrate the Arsenal supporters who harp on that constantly.
But I don’t know if wwe will find out. He’s just had a career season at Arsenal in the wide role with the ball at feet all game. I doubt he’s interested in a change, making runs off the ball, getting just a few touches, and dealing with lumbering center backs kicking him all over the pitch.