8 Nov 2016

Better than Mane? Nicol hails 'sensational' £75m attacker who almost signed for Liverpool

Reds legend Steve Nicol has heaped praise on one of the Reds' former transfer targets.

Analysing Arsenal's team today, Nicol told ESPN:

"Alexis Sanchez is playing centre-forward for Arsenal now, and he’s been pretty sensational".

With Liverpool in scintillating attacking form, Coutinho, Firmino, and Mane are getting the headlines this season, but after his positional change, Sanchez is having just as much of an impact for Arsenal:

* 15 goals/assists in 15 games (Goal/assist every 83 mins)

* Prem Only: 10 goals/assists in 11 games (Goal/assist every 90 mins)

There are obvious parallels here with Roberto Firmino, who - like Sanchez - is an attacking midfielder who's been (succesfully) converted into a centre-forward at the expense of a dedicated striker (Sturridge for Liverpool; Giroud at Arsenal).

In both cases the transition is reaping big rewards, though Firmino is slightly behind Sanchez in the minutes-per-goal/assists stakes (One every 86 mins). With a goal/assist every 75 minutes, though, Philippe Coutinho is currently outperforming them both. Overall, how do Arsenal's attacking mids compare with Liverpool's this season?

* Mane, Coutinho, Firmino, and Lallana: 21 goals/21 assists [42]

* Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott, and Cazorla: 25 goals/16 assists [41]

The Reds are slightly ahead, but neither Liverpool nor Arsenal's attacking quartet are a match for Messi, Neymar, Suarez, and Turan, who have 66 goals/assists between them this season.

^ Sanchez: £75m-rated (CIES Football Observatory)


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