Is Dele Alli better than Alexis Sanchez? Well, the North London Derby happened over the weekend and there were few surprises when Spurs came out on top. Throughout the season they’ve been a more solid, unified outfit. They’ve been full of purpose. Most of all though, they’ve developed. Players have come through. Maybe none more than Dele Alli, who got himself on the scoresheet. Alexis Sanchez, probably the most famous player on the pitch, did not. The marked difference between the two players in this one match, as well as the second half of the season in general seems to pose an interesting question. Is Dele Alli better than Alexis Sanchez?
Is Dele Alli better than Alexis Sanchez?
Some will say the comparison is unfair. Alexis Sanchez is a forward anda winger, Alli a scoring midfielder. They do different jobs for their teams. But if we look at which player contributes more to their side. If we look at which delivers in key moments, across a wide spectrum of factors, we start to wonder if the young England midfielder isn’t better than Alexis Sanchez after all.
Let’s start by looking at the Chilean. You can’t argue that he isn’t a great player. There’s a reason so many top sides are chasing his signature for next season. At Udinese Sanchez bagged enough goals (20) playing on the wing to earn him a transfer to Barcelona. He played there from 2011 to 2014, in one of the most competitive squads on the planet, and scored 39 goals in 88 games. He won la liga, the Copa del re and the World Club Cup with Barca.
At Arsenal different things were asked of him. Without the support of players like Messi, and thanks to the fluctuating form of Giroud, Sanchez has been effectively asked to lead the forward line in a way that never happend at previous clubs. He’s delivered goals too. At time of writing 48 of them in 96 games. But it’s been a torrid time for the Chilean and he seems to be on his way out of the Emirates. I’ve never seen Alexis Sanchez as a pure forward, he was always far more effective coming in from wide positions. He’s simply talented enough to be able to score goals when put in opportunistic positions. Effectively, Wenger had to improvise. In a front 3, Sanchez on the flank, there are few players better, but running on to passes from Ozil we get a different player. Just a very good forward.
Thierry Henry called him ‘Arsenal’s best signing of the past 6 years’ when he came. But he also mentioned none of the current Arsenal squad would get on the Spurs side before the derby.
Why Dele Alli is better than Alexis Sanchez
Look at the force of Tottenham’s title push this season and try and tell me Alli’s development into a fully honed and international class attacker hasn’t proved a key element. I’m not claiming it’s the key element. But looking at the effect the guy has on the team around him, the passion he shows, it’s difficult not to imagine him not making a huge impact on a world level. An impact the like of which Alexis Sanchez was always just a few inches short of doing. There’s a reason Barcelona sold him. Actually there are a few, but the main one has to be he didn’t cut it. He wasn’t seen as in the same level as Neymar or Suarez. Few are. But Dele Alli make more than just a scoring impact.
There’s something different about Dele Alli. He’s not just another Joe Cole or Peter Beardsley. He’s not just another Macmanaman. England has a habit of producing these nice guy talents who ultimately peter out. They lack the fire, the thrill that really ignites a match, a team, a contest. Guys like that are the reason we watch football. Gazza had it. You’d watch Gazza and think, this guy is about to try something only a maniac would even consider. And he’d go ahead and try it. And some of the time it would pay off. That’s how you get there. We all remember how hated Cristiano Ronaldo was for his first one and a half odd season at Man Utd. he was trying every trick, demanding the ball every opportunity. And he blew it 8 times out of 10. Then it was 5 times. Now he never does.
Alli’s rise has been meteoric. In his first full league, he scored 5 goals and made 3 assists in 18 appearances. Former Spurs player Garth Crooks wrote:
“Well, I’ve seen some glorious goals scored in my time watching football matches but I doubt whether I will see a goal scored with such individual flair, and by a 19-year-old, as Dele Alli’s goal at Selhurst Park – it was sheer class”
He’s also got a Guinness World Record. For the most nutmegs in 30 seconds. He was able to get 8 in (at the third attempt). If anything might hamper his game its his discipline issue. What’s more he seems unwilling to remove that element from his game. Time will tell if it holds him back.
Despite his height, 6 foot 2 inches, Alli is supremely well balanced and more than capable of staying on his feet following a tackle. That, coupled with a burst of pace necessary to get past defenders and solid dribbling have made his transition from CM to CAM very smooth. He’s not the best tackler, but can head pretty well and his passing is on a high level also. A tidy, thoughtful player who can move the ball smartly into space for team mates or move with the ball to progress play. He’s got something else. Something you feel he might be able to bring to the very biggest games. It’s a different kind of determination. He’s a winner. He’s got the magic formula people watch football. And it’s exactly what Alexis Sanchez lacks.
To be honest. Alexis Sanchez is most likely the superior player for the moment. But in a season, maybe two, I’d be very surprised if the opposite wasn’t the case.
So, is Dele Alli better than Alexis Sanchez?