Danny Higginbotham: Alexis Sanchez is still trying to play the Arsenal way at Manchester United

by Leo Nieboer

Former Manchester United defender Danny Higginbotham believes Alexis Sanchez’s struggles at Old Trafford stem from the fact that he continues to play the Arsenal way under Jose Mourinho.

The Chilean, deployed primarily on the left hand side since arriving from Arsenal in January, has only managed one goal in ten appearances for the club.

His performance during the 2-1 defeat to Sevilla was without doubt his worst yet, prompting some to suggest he should be dropped against Brighton and Hove Albion.

And Higginbotham, speaking in the aftermath of the nightmare against Sevilla, called on Sanchez to adapt to Mourinho’s methods.

“I think the problem that Sanchez has is that he is still trying to play the Arsenal way,” he said.

“Manchester United and Arsenal are two completely different ways of playing football Sanchez is still playing that Arsenal way and he needs to evolve and play the way Mourinho wants to play.

“I understand that Sanchez is always going to play because he is a brand new signing.”

There are still numerous questions surrounding where exactly Sanchez would be best suited in this Mourinho XI, but this, I think, is beside the point.

At Arsenal, Sanchez found himself in a variety of positions and, more often than not, plunged in the middle of a sordid attacking lineup. But even when Arsene Wenger’s side struggled and the forward was not in the game, he still had a superb knack for pinching goals and assists – seemingly out of thin air.

Why has this not reproduced itself at Old Trafford? The answer is more psychological than tactical.

Sanchez’s reluctance to pull the trigger in the final third and tendency to drop deep – too deep – to receive the ball are markers of a man feeling the burden of being at this club. He appears reluctant to take big decisions and instead seeks to probe away at opponents, as if fighting his own isolated battle.

And against Sevilla, when United simply needed a cool, ambitious head in the final third, he failed to deliver on a night where he could have properly announced himself.

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