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Football: Sparkling Chile striker Sanchez adds to Arsenal’s optimism


Arsenal's Chilean midfielder Alexis Sanchez poses with the Community Shield trophy after Arsenal won the FA Community Shield football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium. Photo - AFP

London: Alexis Sanchez added to the feelgood factor at Arsenal as the Chile forward capped his new club's perfect start to the season with an eye-catching display in the Community Shield on Sunday.

The 25-year-old arrived from Barcelona billed as the creative dynamo who can ensure Arsenal's momentum from last season's FA Cup final triumph reaps even greater rewards this term.

On the evidence of his vibrant showing in the 3-0 win against Manchester City at Wembley, he won't be overawed by the challenge.

He played for just 45 minutes on his competitive debut, but there were enough signs of his quality to suggest he will prove an astute addition to a squad brim full of confidence after ending their nine-year trophy drought.

Sanchez was often used on the flanks by Barcelona but Wenger, who has compared his new signing to Brazil striker Neymar, believes he can also be used in a more central attacking role, sparking much debate about where he would feature against City.

But with Theo Walcott still recovering from injury, Sanchez took up a familiar position the right wing at the start of his Arsenal career.

Initially he was mostly an admiring bystander as Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshire and Santi Cazorla dictated play while the Gunners tore into the champions.

But gradually he began to influence proceedings with a clever drop of the shoulder here and a nimble turn there before making his first concrete contribution in the 42nd minute.

Taking possession wide on the right, he looked up before unfurling a perfectly-weighted low pass to Yaya Sanogo, who didn't waste the exquisite service as he teed up Ramsey for Arsenal's second goal.

Sanchez had scored twice for Chile on his last appearance at Wembley in a friendly victory over England in November.

And he was almost back on the scoresheet moments later, sprinting onto a Sanogo through-ball before attempting to poke his shot past the on-rushing Willy Caballero, who just managed to block with his leg.

That was Sanchez's last contribution as Wenger decided to end his first taste of English football at the interval.

But he had already done enough to show he could thrive far more in north London than he did in Spain.

On joining Barcelona in 2011, Sanchez had just been voted the most promising player in European football ahead of Neymar and Gareth Bale after some scintillating displays for Udinese in Serie A.

But his three-year stay was an ultimately frustrating experience, with occasional moments of magic overshadowed by niggling injuries and the kind of inconsistent performances not tolerated for long at a club of Barca's stature.

Wenger secured Sanchez's signature for around £30 million ($50 million) after he snubbed the chance to join Liverpool as part of Luis Suarez's move to Spain.

Concerns about the 5ft 7in Chilean's stature should be short-lived because his immaculate technique, direct running and feisty attitude appear well suited to the rough and tumble Premier League.

And after Mesut Ozil's disappointing debut season following his club record move to Arsenal last year, Wenger will be confident of a more immediate impact from his latest costly acquisition.

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