Sanchez ready to show Red what they miss

Sanchez ready to show Red what they miss
Arsenal's Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez (L) challenges Anderlecht's midfielder Dennis Praet during the UEFA Champions League Group D football match between Arsenal and Anderlecht at the Emirates Stadium in north London on November 4, 2014.

When Liverpool lost Luis Suarez, the player who ignited their engine last season, they tried to sign Alexis Sanchez.

They are not like-for-like. No modern player has quite the same combustible mix of brilliance and bite as Sanchez. However, the Anfield crowd will get the first chance to assess Sanchez when he plays there, for Arsenal, this evening.

"Alexis Sanchez was identified for us as someone who would have been a key signing," said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on Friday.

"He would have rolled on to what we had with Luis Suarez, so not to get him was disappointing.

"But once he was gone, that was it. We just had to focus on what we had."

Arsenal paid £30 million (S$61.8 million) for Sanchez. Liverpool spent £16 million on Mario Balotelli. An unkind critic, such as me, might suggest you get what you pay for.

When Rodgers had Suarez in his side, he was top of the tree this time last year.

Liverpool had pace and hunger, and though Suarez did not for once score in the 5-1 devastation of Arsenal at Anfield last February, his presence, his attribute of chasing down every ball was hugely important.

Suarez chose to leave for personal and professional reasons.

His wife's family live in Catalonia. He had the chance to take her there, and to play in the same attack as Lionel Messi and Neymar.

"At the end of the day," observed Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, "every great player today has a choice of where to go. He (Alexis) chose us."

"He made his decision," commented Rodgers on the same player. "The best option for him."

The kernel of team building lies in those viewpoints. Managers and their reputations depend upon players, and that point was illuminated a few days ago when Thierry Henry finally announced that his playing days were over.

"He had a massive career," said Wenger, the man who guided Henry through the best of it.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for what he has done for the club and what a success he has been for us.

"He enjoyed it - now it's time for him to suffer as well."

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