Friday 27 April 2018

Of course Arsenal players are keen on Alexis Sanchez going - they don't want anyone challenging culture of mediocrity

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez looks dejected
Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez looks dejected

Charlie Eccleshare

Arsenal's players are reportedly keen to see the back of Alexis Sanchez.

Sanchez's selfishness and overt desperation to leave the club has, we are told, snapped the patience of his poor, long-suffering team-mates.

If this is the case - and it is not Arsenal trying to deflect attention from the fact that their best player so vehemently wants out - then it is another damning indictment of the laughable mental toughness of Arsene Wenger's squad.

Firstly, let's get a few things straight. Sanchez clearly is a difficult character. He can be stroppy and sullen, and is not shy about telling his team-mates when they have not matched his exacting standards.

But maybe, just maybe there's a lesson for the Arsenal players there. No-one likes being told they're not performing well enough - especially when it's true - but perhaps expecting high standards and not accepting repeated humiliations could be something for this embarrassingly supine Arsenal squad to aspire to. Funnily enough, Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry had little truck for a lack of application either.

Anyway, back to Sanchez. Leaks of his destructive behaviour behind the scenes began in March when he reportedly stormed out of a training session and was confronted by Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny.

Wenger was so incensed by the incident that he benched Sanchez for the next game - a crucial trip to Anfield to face Liverpool.

Here was Arsenal's chance to show that without Sanchez dragging the team down, they could express themselves freely and really show what they were made of. 

What they did instead was fall behind 2-0 in a first-half display so wretched that Wenger was forced to instantly swallow his pride and bring on Sanchez for the second half. Naturally, Sanchez was Arsenal's best player after coming on and registered an assist within 12 minutes.

Take that, Alexis! Point well and truly made.

Wenger didn't dare drop Sanchez for the rest of the season. How could he? Sanchez may have been a corrosive influence in the dressing room but who else in the squad was going to step up and be counted in his absence?

The start of this season offered another chance for Arsenal's players to demonstrate that they could flourish without Sanchez. They failed again - stumbling to a dysfunctional win against Leicester and then losing at Stoke. A half-fit Sanchez was swiftly brought back for Sunday's battering at Liverpool.

It's no surprise really that Arsenal's players want Sanchez to leave. A culture of mediocrity has engulfed the club over the last decade, and anyone who challenges the cosy environment is castigated as an outlier.

This is a club remember where the manager sets his own (modest) goals, fails to meet them, but is kept on anyway. This is a club where under-achieving players are rewarded with bumper contracts that make them unsellable. This is a club where Yaya Sanogo recently found gainful employment for four years.

Sanchez challenged the mediocrity, and must be gotten rid of as a result. Good riddance. Please leave Alexis, and allow Arsenal to sleepwalk to a seventh-placed finish in peace.

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport