Thursday, 4 December 2014

Sanchez vs Costa: who has settled better?

Following another Alexis Sanchez goal to rescue Arsenal, Arsene Wenger  was prompted to say that no player had adapted quicker to the Premier League. Sanchez has nine goals in thirteen Premier League appearances so far for the Gunners, he works out at scoring every 117 minutes on average. He also has three goals in the Champions League so far and Arsenal fans will be hoping he can keep up that rate too.

Of his nine Premier League goals, 5 have come at the Emirates and 4 away from home. Without his goals Arsenal would be 7 points worse off, giving them a points total of 16, the same amount as Villa. Sanchez has scored 41% of Arsenal’s goals so far this season, that outlines how vital he has been to their side.

It’s undoubtedly true that Sanchez has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, but quicker than anyone else? That is a very bold claim. Let’s compare him to another big summer signing who has hit the ground running and see if Wenger’s claims check out.

The other exciting summer striker signing from La Liga was Diego Costa, the Spanish striker cost Chelsea a hefty £30 million but he is looking worth every penny of it so far.  Costa has eleven Premier League goals so far this season, two more than  Sanchez. That’s from 11 appearances to, meaning Costa has found the net on average every 83 minutes, an unbelievable conversion rate.

Arguably Sanchez plays a deeper role than Costa who is the focal point of Chelsea’s attacks so we’d maybe expect him to get fewer goals. Sanchez has two assists to his name so far this season, Costa has none. Costa creates fewer chances (1.6) than Sanchez (2.6).

Without Costa’s goals Chelsea would only be five points worse off, still top of the league, that probably says more about how good the rest of Chelsea’s team is though. Costa has scored in 8 separate games, bagging a hat trick against Swansea and a couple against Everton. Sanchez too has scored in 8 separate games. There is little difference in the number of shots the two players have per game, Costa with 3.1 and Sanchez with 3.0.

Both players have been praised for their work rate, that has been identified as one of the reasons that they have settled so well in England. Defending from the front has become an important part of the modern striker’s game. Costa averages 0.7 tackles and 0.4 interceptions, Sanchez is yet to make an interception and averages 0.4 tackles per game. Clearly, they are both doing more off the ball than those statistics suggest, it’s more about closing players and putting them under pressure.

Both sides would undoubtedly be worse off without their new talismanic forwards, I think Sanchez is more important to Arsenal right now but that is arguably because they’ve been without Giroud and lack the strength in depth Chelsea have. You still get the feeling Costa isn’t 100% fit.

It’ll be interesting to see how both players fare over Christmas, with both used to having a winter break. Who has settled better? I think Costa settled faster, he grabbed 7 goals in his first four games but Sanchez has certainly caught him up and he is vital to Arsenal right now. That said both have adapted extremely well to the Premier League, they’ve lived up to the hype and their respective price tags.

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