The Arsenal fans tend to jump at the chance to boo anything, be that an irritating referee, a poor first half performance, or any mention whatsoever of Robin van Persie.
However, it was a surprise to hear a few jeers for Alexis Sanchez last weekend. When the Chilean was introduced for his first appearance at the Emirates Stadium since his transfer to Manchester City fell through, he received a decidedly mixed reception, with plenty of supporters opting to make their displeasure heard.
Arsenal need him
Let’s face it: Arsenal need Alexis. He played a direct role in almost 50 Arsenal goals last season, and there’s nobody else in the squad who can match his productivity. Alexandre Lacazette is still settling in, and Mesut Ozil is far from prolific. Danny Welbeck may have mastered the art of heading one in off his own shoulder, but he can’t be relied upon to reproduce that feat regularly.
It’s telling that as soon as Alexis was fit to play, he was back in the starting line-up to face Liverpool. When Arsenal travel to Chelsea next weekend, you can bet he’ll be back in the XI once again.
Wenger knows his value, which is why Arsenal spent so much of the summer insisting they would hold on to the player at any cost.
If Arsenal are to stand any chance of forcing their way back into the Champions League this season, Alexis will surely play an integral part. With so much at stake, booing your best player seems unwise.
This from today what u think gooners with Sanchez booing pic.twitter.com/yEpP3MVf2W
— Grant Mansfield (@grantyboy2109) September 9, 2017
He didn’t act up
Presumably those fans who booed Alexis are annoyed that he wanted to leave the club. The Chilean is the latest in a string of stars who’ve sought to leave Arsenal. However, unlike many of his restless predecessors, Alexis didn’t kick up much of a fuss.
He never handed in a formal transfer request, nor made his desire to go public. In fact, for such an infamously combustible character, Alexis has behaved with remarkable dignity throughout the summer. He’s batted off questions in interviews, and trained with typical intensity. Alexis has just carried on being Alexis.
He could have agitated to go and made his position untenable. Instead, the left the situation to the clubs. The fact they made such a colossal mess of things is hardly his fault.
It’s downright hypocritical
If you’re going to target Alexis, surely Ozil has to be subjected to the same treatment? Like his Chilean counterpart, the German has failed to sign a new contract. The only reason his future wasn’t more hotly debated in the summer is that no-one seems to have any interest in buying him.
Both men have effectively rejected new contracts in favour of allowing their deals to run into their final year, yet Ozil seems to have escaped without any opprobrium.
Alexis appears to be taking flak for the simple fact that another team wanted to sign him.
The fact that players are loathe to commit their futures to Arsenal is surely indicative of the general malaise the club is caught in, rather than any vicious malignancy on the part of the players.