Alexis Sanchez ready to show Man City what they're missing - or is it the other way around?

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On the face of it, Manchester City aren’t really missing Alexis Sanchez. (Can you miss something you never had?)

Having failed to complete the signing of the Chilean in the summer, City have gone on to tear the league apart without him, scoring 35 goals in 10 league games so far this season. They’ve got a five-point lead at the top of the table and they’re nine points clear of Sanchez’s Arsenal side, whom they entertain on Sunday.

Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane have six league goals each, while Raheem Sterling – for whom Arsenal proposed a swap deal in order to facilitate Sanchez’s move – has seven. Pep Guardiola‘s decision to flat-out refuse to include Sterling is clearly paying dividends. The Englishman has chipped in with two assists, as well, while Jesus has one and Sane has five.

And then, of course, there’s Sergio Aguero, with his seven league goals and three assists.

Sanchez has one goal and two assists in seven appearances this season. Per 90 minutes, his goal (0.20 vs 0.40) and assist (0.40 vs 0.41) stats are down in comparison to last season, although he is actually creating more chances. It’s not even as if the drop-off can be attributed to the arrival of Alexandre Lacazette, because until a couple of weeks ago the duo hadn’t been on the pitch together.

More than just the numbers, Sanchez just doesn’t look like the player from last season. He hasn’t been the all-conquering force he was for Arsenal in the previous campaign, when it seemed like it was only his efforts that were keeping the team afloat.

A frustrated Sanchez has a point to prove against Manchester City.

A frustrated Sanchez has a point to prove against Manchester City.

So why would City want him?

On pure talent, of course, Sanchez is one of the best players in the league, if not in Europe. But the Jesus-Sterling-Sane frontline has been so devastatingly effective for City, with or without Aguero. Indeed, Guardiola is comfortable enough to rest or drop Aguero because of his youthful trio (Sterling is the oldest – and he’s only 22), and the Argentine is in the same strata of players as Sanchez.

So it’s fair to ask, would the Chilean really improve City?

There is a sense that Sanchez is at his best when he’s the main man. Certainly, that’s how he’s thrived at Arsenal, and at Udinese, where then-manager Francesco Guidolin made him the focal point of the team.

Conversely, he struggled (by his own high standards) to have the same impact when he was one of many at Barcelona, where he had one excellent season sandwiched by two middling ones – with caveats: injuries and the arrival of Neymar limiting his playing time.

But if he does move to City next summer, he’ll be in a similar situation to what he faced at Barcelona, and under the same manager.

Guardiola might be an admirer of Sanchez’s but the same issue will exist: the league leaders have many outstanding attacking players, and Sanchez won’t have a team that’s built around his strengths and where he’s the focal point.

So if he wants to make a point to his potential employers on Sunday, showing that he has to carry Arsenal might not be the best way to do it. That’s not to say he shouldn’t try to take over the game if that’s what Arsene Wenger‘s side needs on the day. But everyone knows he can score a cracking goal and generally thrive when the play is going through him.

What’s more important for him to display is a willingness to buy into a team ethos. Lead his teammates through his actions, by encouraging them rather than showing his frustrations, by abandoning his “woe is me” look that surfaces whenever Arsenal struggle in a game and by playing to the team’s strategy rather than trying to do everything on his own – until the moment it’s absolutely necessary.

He needs to play like he’s the best player on a very good team. Not like he’s miles better than his teammates, he knows it, and he’s sick of it. Because he won’t be if he moves to City.

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Three reasons why Jose Mourinho is unhappy at Man United

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Let’s put this into perspective.

Manchester United are second in the Premier League, boasting the second best attack and the meanest defence. Yet, all is not well in Jose Mourinho’s world.

From stating that United will not be his last job, to rumours linking him to Paris Saint-Germain and shushing into the camera at the end of the Tottenham game, the Mourinho blues are back.

So given United’s position, why is the Portuguese on edge?

There’s no suggestion here that he is angling for a move away from Old Trafford in the near future but he’s clearly agitated.

Here’s a look at three things that could be gnawing away at Mourinho as he returns to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on Sunday.

DOUBTING HIS METHODS

When he took the United job, Mourinho would’ve been made fully aware of the expectations that come with being manager of arguably the most followed club in the world.

One of those expectations are that he deliver attacking football and while he’s done that against the lesser teams to an extent, few have been impressed with his defensive approach to games against the top six sides.

The 54-year-old has always been a result oriented manager and you can’t argue with the success he’s had while abiding by that. However, this is Manchester United and the fact is, he’s spent obscene amounts of money, so why’s the team having to set up like an inferior opposition against Liverpool when their shaky defence was clearly there for the taking?

Mourinho needs to accept that more is expected of United and it will be interesting to see how he approached the game at Stamford Bridge.

INJURIES

Scott McTominay made a fine Champions League debut against Benfica in midweek but it came around as a result of United’s depleted resources in the midfield department.

Paul Pogba‘s lengthy injury spell has been a huge blow to the team. The Frenchman’s absence has coincided with a dip in United’s form as their game play has suffered. His driving runs from midfield and range of passing has been missed.

The unavailability of Mourinho’s go-to option in Marouane Fellaini has also left the United boss short of ideas. While the Belgian’s style may not be easy on the eye, there’s no doubting his effectiveness and Mourinho has done well to get the most out of him.

Further injuries to Michael Carrick and Jesse Lingard have only compounded problems for the Red Devils boss who must dip into his bag of tricks to conjure a result at every hurdle, one painstaking performance at a time.

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba

OUT OF FORM PLAYERS

Romelu Lukaku hasn’t scored in six games but he is very much a striker who relies on the service he receives and it must be said that those supply lines have dried up of late.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been the biggest concern after starting the season in sensational form. The Armenian has drastically fallen off the pace and hasn’t provided an assist in his last 11 appearances. Rather more worrying is his tendency to drift in and out of games.

At times he’s looked as if he’s regressed, struggling to cope with the pace and physicality of the Premier League despite proving his ability to thrive in it earlier on in the campaign.

Meanwhile, Juan Mata has failed to step up in the absence of Pogba as well. The Spaniard usually boasts a fine record with his goals and assists ratio but has dipped in that regard this term.

Ander Herrera has not been at his best either but perhaps Mourinho brought that upon himself having given him the cold shoulder for much of the season before only turning to him now with his options severely limited.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (L)

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (L)

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Demarai Gray terrorises Stoke defence as Leicester claim point in away draw

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A second half header from Peter Crouch secured a 2-2 draw for Stoke City at home to Leicester City.

Vicente Iborra bagged the first goal while Riyad Mahrez restored the visitors’ lead after Xherdan Shaqiri equalised.

Here we look in-depth at the performance of Demarai Gray.

STATS

Shots – 0

Touches – 43

Passes – 21

Pass Accuracy – 95.2%

Key passes – 3

Crosses – 9

Dribbles – 0

Dispossessed – 1

EFFECTIVENESS

After starting in Claude Puel’s first game in charge and impressing, Gray was handed another start away to Stoke. He absolutely terrorised the Potters’ defence with Kurt Zouma in particular facing the brunt of it.

Playing on the left flank in the absence of Ben Chilwell, he was Leicester’s biggest threat, particularly in the first half. While his pace and dribbling was on show again, it’s his crossing that impressed against Stoke.

It’s almost criminal that he didn’t register an assist in the first 45 minutes considering the chances he created. His two crosses for Shinji Okazaki were probably the best of the lot and the striker should’ve tucked away at least one of them.

On the flip side, like in the previous game, he did seem to fade after half-time, making little impact in the second period. He was subbed off for Marc Albrighton with 10 minutes to go.

Demarai Gray (R) vies with Kurt Zouma

Demarai Gray (R) vies with Kurt Zouma

KEY MOMENTS

11th min CROSS: Gray drives at Kurt Zouma on the left side, squares him up and beats him on the outside. He does well to drill a ball in towards Jamie Vardy as well but the striker’s attempt to steer it in is thwarted by Kevin Wimmer.

19th min FOULED: Gray cuts in from the left flank at pace and is brought down on the edge of the box by a combination of Zouma and Diouf. Mahrez hits the wall from the ensuing free-kick.

21st min CROSS: Zouma can’t live with Gray. The youngster causes more problems on the left before lobbing a delightful ball to the far post where Okazaki is in space but can’t direct it on target with his effort on the stretch.

37th min CROSS: Gray storms down the left flank again and finds Okazaki with a cross at the end of a great run. The Japanese connects with a good header but Jack Butland makes the save.

38th min CROSS: ANOTHER good cross from Gray. He receives a short corner and whips in a delivery for Iborra who heads over.

53rd min PASS: This time, Gray plays a short pass into Mahrez inside the box and the Algerian unleashes a great effort that drags just wide of the far post.

VERDICT

Plenty of promising signs from the England youngster again and certainly justified his new contract at the club this week. He’s brought a spark back into Leicester’s play and while he’ll need to work on doing it throughout 90 minutes, his manager will be pleased with the impact he had on Saturday. Unfortunate not to bag an assist.

7/10

All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com

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