LONDON // Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez is keen to play the same kind of role Lionel Messi performs at Barcelona, the Chilean international said.
Sanchez, who played with Messi in Spain before moving to the Emirates Stadium in July 2014, has started in 11 of Arsenal’s 12 league games so far this season, scoring six goals and supplying three assists.
“I like the way that Lionel Messi plays,” Sanchez told Arsenal Player. “He likes to drop deep and let other players run on ahead of him, like Jordi Alba, Dani Alves and myself, when I used to play on the right there, and then look to find him in the middle again.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has built his attack around Sanchez, fielding him as the lone striker ahead of three attacking midfielders.
“I like getting involved in the play more rather than chasing the ball. I like seeing lots of the ball because I have the chance to drop deep and that means I can link up with my team mates more,” Sanchez, 27, said.
Oliver Giroud has been consigned to the bench for the most part this season but with Wenger keen to give Sanchez a break over the winter the French forward could find himself back in the starting line-up.
Arsenal, who are fourth, host 10th-placed Bournemouth at on Sunday in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Wenger concedes Arsenal have lost momentum and look destined for a frustrating second-placed finish in their Uefa Champions League group after being held to a 2-2 draw against Paris Saint-Germain.
Wenger’s side were on course to wrap up top spot in Group A when they led 2-1 late in the second half at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
But Lucas’s 77th-minute header was deflected into his own net by Gunners winger Alex Iwobi and Arsenal were unable to find a winner.
That leaves the north Londoners level on points with PSG but behind them on a head-to-head record, meaning the French team will take first place if they win their last group match, against minnows Ludogorets on December 6.
Arsenal travel to Basel on the same night and Wenger conceded it does not look likely they will take pole position following their third successive draw in all competitions, meaning they will probably get a tougher tie in the knockout stages.
“It’s not over, but we have a 90 per cent chance to finish second,” Wenger said. “We wanted to finish first. We haven’t lost a game in this group so we have done well, but we haven’t finished the job.
“We dropped off after it was 2-1. We didn’t maintain the pressure and paid for that. It’s frustrating. We were a bit passive on the corner for their second goal.”
Arsenal know only too well how damaging it can be to finish second as a series of tough draws have led to six consecutive last-16 exits.
But Wenger tried to remain upbeat and insisted the quality of some of the teams finishing second meant even group winners could not be guaranteed an easy draw.
“Will it be bad for us? We have to wait and see,” he said. “If you finish first you play the second game at home, but you look at the groups and it’s difficult to tell what is better.
“For me it’s more frustrating not to win the game but they are a team with top technical quality.”
Here’s what we think
After a strong run that raised hopes of sustained challenges for silverware at home and abroad, Arsenal have looked lethargic in lucky draws against Manchester United and PSG.
Wenger knows his side have been below their best over the last week, but he does not expect the dip to last.
“We have not lost but we have lost a winning momentum a little bit,” he said. “There is a special spirit in the squad. We are unbeaten for 18 games and sometimes you go through a period where you are a little bit less effective.
“It’s up to us to transform the draws into wins, but there is no reason to panic.”
PSG could easily have finished with victory as Edinson Cavani squandered two late chances, but boss Unai Emery was happy enough with a polished performance that puts his side’s European destiny in their own hands.
“If we are to analyse the two matches against Arsenal I think that we deserve to be first at the moment,” he said. “It was a good test and I’m pleased with the way the team responded.
“Arsenal have some good players and are set up well. We did very well against them and our best players showed great personality.
“The players met my expectations. It was a terrific performance and it’s important now that we build on this in our next fixtures.”
Other Champions League reactions:
Guardiola: 'I'm glad we won't play [Bayern Munich]'
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