Alexis…..eres una leyenda
The title is in homage to Alexis’s native language (or lengua nativa o idioma nativo), and yes to me he is a legend.
The topic of who constitutes a club legend is moot and subjective. Many may balk at these points; however, I have seldom seen a player like Alexis in my time as a supporter. And this is since the mid-90s, seeing true greats like Wright, Bergkamp, Adams, Henry, Pires, etc.
I’m going to answer some detracting points and points in favour to say why I believe he is a legend:
- Winning trophies
For many, winning trophies or being a mainstay in such success is a primary determinant of legendary status. I can understand that, but it’s not as clear-cut as that in my mind. Though to use other clubs’ examples, Bryan Robson only won two FA Cups in his prime at Manchester United. He was there for the early Fergie trophies, but generally was on the wane after that. Few United fans would say he’s not a legend. What about Kerry Dixon? He was kicking it at Chelsea long before the current Chelsea, arguably when they were a “small club”. Gazza is a Tottenham legend, and he only ever won an FA Cup at Spurs. Similar is true of Lineker. Shearer is a Toon legend, as are Ledley King at Spurs and even Liam Brady with us. Note that Shearer, despite being the top scorer in Newcastle’s history, never won anything with them.
So then winning trophies alone doesn’t constitute legendary status. It’s more based on style of play and contributions on the pitch. Arsenal had comparatively few players of Brady’s style, possibly not since Alex James in the great 1930s teams. David O’Leary and Sansom are also Arsenal legends, but only won a handful of trophies with us. O’Leary was an understudy really to Bould and Adams in the height of the Graham successes, even though he was present at Anfield 89 and for the 1991 season.
So if consistent performances are the key, then for me at least Alexis is an Arsenal legend. Helping us win trophies is not a sole definitive criterion. Marwood was key in the 1989 league title win, but he isn’t deemed a legend per se. David Hillier played a part in the 1991 title win, but he is not a legend. Gilles Grimandi was key in the 1998 Double team, and Edu in the 2002 Double/2004 Invincibles. Though he is valued, he is not deemed a club legend.
- Passion and commitment
Part of why Wrighty and Henry were popular is that we had seldom ever seen strikers with their level of passion and commitment. In nearly every game, they would try and do something, or produce a goal or some facet to ignite the game. Shearer scored more goals at Wrigthy, in both club and international levels, though Wrighy was a more entertaining player to watch. Henry scored less Premier League goals than Shearer, but was a far more engaging and explosive striker by comparison.
Alexis provides this, and his hunger and desire is unrivalled, possibly in the Premier League let alone Arsenal. No matter how many knocks and scrapes he gets, he is pretty determined and it’s almost like he is immortal. He gets up, dusts himself down and goes again.
If Adams is an Arsenal legend in part due to his leadership and commitment as a defender, Bergkamp for his technical grace, Wrighty for his passion and goal scoring, and Henry for his guile and goal scoring, then Alexis can be also.
The goals that Alexis has scored rank amongst the best in the Wenger era. The goals vs.:
- Villa (2015 Cup Final)
- City (14/15 – H)
- West Ham (16/17 – A)
- Sunderland (16/17 – A)
- Southampton (16/17 – H)
- Man United (15/16 – H)
Surely rank up there with the best of Wright, Merson, Bergkamp, Pires, Ljungberg and others in PL history.
Part of being a legend is outstanding moments, and surely Alexis has provided much.
- Carrying the team
I think part of the reason Wrighty is deemed a legend is that he did to some degree carry the team in the early Premier league years. This was not his fault, though he was our focal point for goals in that era. Alexis this season has carried us, and without his goals we would be in a far worse league position than the fifth place we accrued.
As the main man at our club, he has stepped up to the plate, and surely must rank as one of the few genuine world class players in the Premier League.
So for me, Alexis is a legend. I’ve seldom seen players at our club with his level of grace, guile, skill, technique, passion and determination. Yes, he can go overboard (, e.g. Bournemouth and Leicester at home) but then Wrighty acted up. Bergkamp, Pires, and other legends did from time to time. No player is or can be perfect.
- Wanting to leave
Some may say the fact there is immense speculation of him leaving detracts from potential legendary status. Though I’d retort, it’s our fault as a club that we have not matched his ambition or commitment levels. He is clearly highly ambitious, and thus prone to want to succeed, and we have had numerous on the pitch failings. We are not the victims in this scenario, and we all know that loyalty in the modern game is scant. His supposed wish to leave is as much our fault as it is his.
To use another analogy, Ronaldo left Man U to Real Madrid, but that should not undermine his legendary status at Man U. Beckham left, but then not due to wanting new horizons, but in disputes over his public life with Sir Alex Ferguson. I’d gauge the general reason for leaving, more than wanting to leave per se.
- Glory at Wembley
His MOTM performance in our glorious win over Chelsea at Wembley, for me at the least, cements his status. He was the driving force behind us, and our deserved victory over the league champions. He also is the first player since RvP to score 30 in a season for us, in all competitions and thus is in illustrious company. RvP is no legend, but Henry and Ian Wright certainly are. If he stays, and we win the league or Champions League in the next few years, then surely this point of being a driving force in winning trophies will become invalid.
And as much as I love Henry, he never peaked for us in a cup final. There are some who today even still deride his misses in the Champions League final. Alexis is the direct opposite. He shown for us with one of the best goals ever in the FA Cup final vs. Villa, and of course was the boss vs. Chelsea.
His value in our history, and arguably that of the FA Cup overall, has been surely cemented.
If the tune de jour is mockingly “Arsene Wenger, we want you to stay”, then I will use it in the converse “Alexis Sanchez, we want you to stay”. Even if he does go, and I believe he will, I do believe he is “una leyenda a nuestro club” in homage to his him and his native tongue.