Player focus: Alexis Sanchez superb and influential as usual against West Ham

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal celebrates with team-mate Alexis Sanchez after scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium on December 3, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Alexis Sánchez was at his superlative best: netting a well-taken hat-trick, creating an assist as well as numerous promising chances too during Arsenal’s 5-1 thrashing over West Ham on Saturday evening.

The talented Chilean operated as a lone striker once more, and showed his unselfish nature to involve teammates in build-up play before his pivotal part in the Gunners’ opening goal.

Mesut Özil in particular was a creative linchpin as usual, creating space for himself as a viable passing option, one that Alexis combined with on a few occasions in the final third.

Alexis showed his awareness and hunger to win possession, having latched onto a loose ball after Angelo Ogbonna’s attempted forward pass was snuffed out. Within seconds, he flicked the ball past an on-rushing Winston Reid before unselfishly squaring the ball to Özil, who made no mistake from close-range.

Having broken the deadlock, Alexis was unlucky not to have doubled the lead before half time. He stung Darren Randolph’s gloves with a curling effort on the edge of the area, before being played through by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on a promising breakaway. His second touch pushed him too close to Randolph’s path and with the goalkeeper rushing out to pressure him, Alexis was forced wide and the opportunity fizzled out.

There were a few nervy moments before the interval despite Arsenal’s dominance, and it was Alexis who eventually doubled the visitors’ lead in the 72nd minute.

After a probing pass into the path of Theo Walcott was squandered by the Englishman, Sánchez decided to go alone in fantastic style. Shkodran Mustafi’s forward pass was met with a characteristically sharp turn goalwards by the 27-year-old, who effortlessly weaved past Masuaku and Ogbonna before driving a low finish into the bottom corner, giving Randolph no chance.

It was a similar type of strike he went for after 80 minutes, finding the bottom corner once more with another low but deceptively powerful effort whilst the West Ham backline were left stunned at how easily they were carved open at the edge of the box.

The Ox curled a peach of a shot into the corner just minutes after Andy Carroll had brought a goal back for the Hammers. The best of them all though? Alexis’ third, capping a truly wonderful hat-trick.

Quick passing play in a midfield transition saw Sánchez through with a one-on-one chance. He showed excellent skill and composure in one movement to pull off a stepover under pressure, before leaving Randolph red-faced as he chipped the ball goalwards, watching it nestle into the net with aplomb.

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 03: Alexis Sanchez’s audacious chip was a memorable moment which capped off a fantastic individual display from the talented Chilean. (Photo source: Getty Images)

His fantastic performance means he’s now on 13 goals and nine assists in all competitions this season. All things considered, that’s an impressive tally for a player that has shrugged off injury and fears of burnout to continue performing at a high level on a consistent basis – something that speaks volumes for his character and will to win.

Alexis Sanchez during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium on December 3, 2016 in London, England.

Match-winner Alexis poses for a selfie with a number of West Ham ballboys after the full-time whistle at London Stadium on December 3, 2016 in London, England. (Picture: Getty Images)

After a display like that, it’s no wonder he wants a pay rise: one that he has definitely earned since his lucrative move to north London two summers ago.

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