Football Expert & Columnist
Alexis Sanchez's selfish tantrums hinder Arsenal, says Niall Quinn
Last Updated: 06/03/17 3:01pm
What does Niall Quinn make of the recent stories surrounding Alexis Sanchez? In his latest column, the Sky Sports pundit and former Gunners striker tells it how it is...
It's been quite a year so far for disgruntled players. Leicester's champions have reportedly been implicated in seeing off their manager. Dimitri Payet has sulked his way back across the channel, Joey Barton has been Joey Barton and now Alexis Sanchez seems intent on taking a big DayGlo marker and underlining everything that he feels is wrong at Arsenal.
After hints earlier this season that Arsenal had enough of big boys kicking sand in their face, they have reverted to type and the annual spring time festival has begun where Arsene Wenger is stringed up and smacked like a pinata in an anorak.
We are all well used to the arguments. Arsene has built a stadium and paid for it. He has kept Arsenal in the Champions League year in, year out although not many people outside of north London have noticed. He doesn't panic buy, and when he does buy he isn't influenced by the wisdom of the crowd. He doesn't consult Twitter. Arsenal fans are still waiting for the new Patrick Vieira and wondering where does the stockpile of young talents end up?
In Alexis Sanchez he seemed to have bought a gift which kept on giving. In his time at the Emirates, the Chilean's talents have been used effectively out wide, but when he moved inside to take up a central striking role he seemed to give the team and extra dimension.
Arsenal quiet on Sanchez row
Arsenal are yet to comment on reports Alexis Sanchez was involved in a training ground bust-up
Wenger is a fan of Giroud of course - as am I - but it finally seemed that the two of them could be used to good effect in the one game. In several games Sanchez's smart running and gifts with the ball tormented centre halves for 70 minutes and then he moved out wide left and Giroud came in all fired up to put himself about.
The Chilean has obviously enjoyed the limelight, and the attention has brought out a side of him which, if the newspaper reports on Monday are to be believed, is always very unattractive to fellow players.
He has perfected the "I'm not with these losers" gesture. His will to win was something Arsenal needed in their team, and Arsene must have hoped it was contagious. Sanchez's ability to conspicuously convey how disappointed he is with everybody wearing the same jersey isn't the same thing though. To me it is selfishness disguised as leadership.
Tantrums like throwing his gloves away and coming off with a face like a slapped backside when he is substituted won't have endeared him either to the team or management. He is not helping an under-performing team and to many it looks as if he is putting himself in the shop window with an eye to the summer.
"He has perfected the 'I'm not with these losers' gesture. "
Quinn on Sanchez's attitude
When the news broke on Saturday that he would be sitting on the bench at Anfield in what was a huge match for two troubled teams, you just expected that there was more to his demotion than tactics. With Mesut Ozil missing through illness, the move seemed even odder.
Arsenal were listless and bored-looking in his absence. When he was introduced on the left wing in the second half he seemed to shock Arsenal into life, and as if we needed proof, they looked a better team with him than without him. That remains the case whether or not the stories of him walking out of a training session and then arguing with his team-mates in the dressing room are true or not.
It all comes at a critical time not just for Arsene Wenger (who is used to them) but for the team as a whole. The return Champions League game with Bayern on Tuesday night doesn't really offer hope of anything more than making Arsenal's annual exit look a little less embarrassing.
More importantly, having looked at one stage as if they might threaten seriously for the Premier League title, they have now dropped out of the Champions League placings. They have a game in hand on Liverpool, who are above them by two points, but essentially they are in a three-way race now with Liverpool and Manchester United.
The question that has to be asked is whether or not they deserve to be top four. Their record against the teams around them is poor. Back in September when they turned over Chelsea and forced Conte to do what he is comfortable with and play three at the back for the rest of the season, there were many of us who believed that the result suggested a new Arsenal.
Since then there have been draws with Spurs and Manchester United, losses to Chelsea and Manchester City, and a second loss of the season to Liverpool, who got the chance on Saturday to feel good about themselves for the first time this year.
Wenger finds himself between a rock and a hard place. Sanchez is the best player at Arsenal. The rest of the squad is made up of talents who shine brilliantly on certain days, generally when those days don't involve games against top six teams.
Wenger is dallying as usual about signing a new contract with his existing deal due to expire at the end of the season. I have no doubt that he intends to stay at Arsenal and I have no doubt that the people upstairs want that too. There is no other obvious candidate on the horizon that Arsenal would feel comfortable with.
Still, for the new deal to be broadly welcomed Wenger needs a healthy finish to the season, qualification for the Champions League and clear indications that next year's team will carry more serious world-class talents.
For that to happen he needs Sanchez on board, happy and playing to his mesmerising best. Something has to give. It seems unlikely that Sanchez will be convinced to stay on next season, but it may just be that the things which would change his mind are the things which most Arsenal fans want to see happen anyway.
Arsenal have become an off-peak soap opera year in, year out, which is hard to swallow for their French director, a philosophical man who doesn't much like drama.
How this year's episode pans out though will be compulsive viewing.