Was Sanchez Better Than Bergkamp?




Goal scorers are always regarded as the best players if they are posting good numbers. Now that might be fair enough if you think that is all that matters. Now I’m a big believer in that a players stats is a good reflection of his ability. But I mean all the stats, not just goals and assists. The problem is that some stats are disregarded and some have not been collated because it’s not possible to quantify them accurately.

For example, how do we measure which was the key pass or movement that opened up the game leading to a goal or a chance? A pre assist or a pre pre assist , could be much more key than the final assist, which could be as simple as anything.

How do you measure the understanding a player has for his team mates? If someone is pulling opposition players out of position , opening up space for the assist or goal, how is that measured?

How do you measure when a player passes to a team mate and he has time and space to create or pass the ball on again, against a hospital pass or one that will surely result in loss of possession? They are both recorded as completed passes.

How do you measure the skill of a player finding good space, if he doesn’t get given the ball?

How do you measure the cost of squandered possession if it’s a while before the goal against us is scored, or how much energy is used by the team trying to regain possession?

But “GOALS AND ASSISTS” they scream, when rating players.

Most fans watch the ball, so if a player chases the ball, hogs it when he gets it and takes a shot from anywhere, fans will be impressed. Not all fans of course, some actually understand the game.

Some of you might already have guessed that this blog has been inspired by my opinion that Sanchez was not a world class player for us, and perhaps the most overrated player in the clubs history. Not because he wasn’t an incredibly gifted player, because he was also incredibly bad at many of the things that define a great player.

I have to be honest, I didn’t want him when we signed him and thought he would not fit with our style. That style was based on dominating the ball with technically gifted players, since Arsene had introduced it(very much before Pep at Barca) in 2008.

When Sanchez arrived, we had Jack, Santi, Ozil, Rosicky and had began to look like contenders for the title and started winning silverware. Despite he himself being technically gifted, he was the opposite of these players. He often lost the ball 30+times in a game, our team play became disjointed and we were left exposed to counters. Occasionally he had games where he didn’t squander the ball, and frankly, he and the team then looked very impressive.

People will talk about his “peak” season, where he was prolific with goals and also more than decent with assists. But that coincidentally was the first time in 20 years we finished outside the top four. Go figure.

So let’s think about just how much sense the “BUT GOALS AND ASSISTS” merchants make.

Dennis Bergkamp made a goal or assist every 1.74 PL games

Sanchez made a goal of assist every 1.20 (all comps) games.

So those stats would tell a “BUT GOALS AND ASSIST” merchant, that Sanchez was better than God himself.

Ramsey scored 40 goals in 262 appearances, one every 6.55 games (PL)

Vieira scored 27 in 279, one every 10.33.

Assists are even more in favour of Ramsey

So “BUT GOALS AND ASSISTS” merchants would have us believe Aaron was better than Patrick. Now I’m a huge Ramsey fan, but I would laugh at myself if I made such an assertion.

There you are then, judging a player’s worth to the team ,based on stats alone is stupid, but judging them on headline stats is utterly ridiculous.

Finally, if anyone thinks I’m calling them stupid if they thought Sanchez was a great player, I’m sorry, because that’s exactly what I am doing. His form since he left Arsenal and didn’t have Ozil and Arsene, to make him appear good, is the real reflection of him. The proof of the pudding, as they say.

Pedantic George





21 comments on “Was Sanchez Better Than Bergkamp?

  1. While the idea of difficult comparisons amongst various players constitutes a great idea for a blog the idea of these two being compared is quite disgusting.
    Denis was World class, Champions League and sanchez was division four they were world’s apart.
    Marwood and Groves contributed more to winning teams than sanchez ever could and football is a team game it may be full of talented individuals but if a player cannot blend that talent into a team then he is useless as a ongoing consistent force.
    Please George I never want to see such a ridiculous title again I am extremely disappointed.


  2. A bit harsh Ian. I think the conclusion was in line with your own opinion.


  3. Sanchez was without doubt a square peg in Wenger’s er, otherwise well-rounded, possession-based team. He was almost certainly the beginning of the end for AW as this same team had to pull itself out of formation and end up contorted into all sorts of shapes to accommodate football’s equivalent of the Lone Ranger – a romantic figure maybe, but all but useless in a team environment. Ignore his goals, just look at our results.

    Sanchez’s other great – albeit unintended – achievement was to reveal the scale of the prevalence of the profound ignorance of a simply staggering quantity of supposed followers of the game. ‘Fans’ who could look no further than the Assists & Goals stats (as you argue) proved themselves alarmingly blind to so many of the game’s truths. Nowadays, the sight of fans behaving in a fantastically moronic fashion has become very much the ‘new’ norm, largely (but not exclusively) thanks to that great gift of the online age, ‘fan tv’. We barely mention it these days but the public emergence of the new wave of idiots was something to behold at the time. I remember well a constant argument on Yogi’s A Cultured Left Foot, with one or two (possibly American or Canadians) who could not take any view on the game without multiple references to the stats. And I know there IS a place for stats, but it must be blended with, shall we say, a fairly generous helping of football wisdom, perspective and guile.

    Of course, if you are actually not THAT bothered about the sport itself and would prefer to concentrate on trying to build up a ‘following’ and develop a ‘profile’ (why, I have no idea) then a brief nod towards the stats when they happen to coincide with your basic understanding of the game, is of some value as they give, at least on a highly superficial level, some gravitas to help weigh down your flimsy views, and disguise your flip-flopping all over the place.

    I don’t know if the ‘pre-assist’ is already a thing, but even that statistical sleight of hand might be a step in the right direction, if only to confuse the Assists & Goals fan boys.

    And if you really want to mess with their heads, get them to explain recent AFC victories over Liverpool and Citeh, with well under 50% of the possession for the North London upstarts in both games.

    Can’t really be done can it, without a reasonable helping of nouse?

    Anyway, blow all that – Arteta out, sell Lacazette, Xhaka etc, etc, and don’t forget to ‘Like’ me, on your way out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well on the stats thing, I know its a different sport but they have come into GAA games big time in recent years, and a guy, Cian Mackey, from my native county, Cavan, recently retired from Inter County Football after a long career, and he bemoaned that stats had come in and in fact had seen as far as he was concerned false praise heaped upon some players and other guys wrongly lose their place on teams. He mentioned that things like 100% pass completion was seeing guys hold their place on the team despite not one of their passes being in any way risky, lads were at the first sign of a tackle turning back and playing the ball backways or sideways, just so their stats would say 100% pass completion, also amount of ground covered he said was a very false stat, just like pass completion, as for him 1km ran forward to try and score was better than 2km running round in circles being safe. On passing he said 50% completion that led to a score or even a scoring chance was far more impressive than 100% of safe passing.
    I know one guy who dropped out of inter county football in his early 20’s cos of the stats thing, where he was blasted by the management for his low pass completion rate cos he was always trying to get a forward in on goal, so more often than not the pass would not be completed, he was also fed up with being told to not shoot even if he had a clear chance as he should give it to the guys with higher scoring rates. He said that it was awful position to be when in with a chance of kicking a score, the doubt would be in his mind, that if he shot and failed to score, that would be a mark against him and he could lose his place. He said that the things he done at club level to get him on the county team, suddenly became a no no once on the county team.

    As Arsene Wenger said about StatDNA and the buying of players, stats are all well and good but nothing should replace the human opinion(scouting), stats should only be an aid, there to back up your opinion formed from what you seen with your own eyes

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yeah I was going to do a paragraph on Running stats. What good is running 13k if the runs are into space or behind, with zero chance of the ball getting to you, or closing down with no chance of getting there before a safe pass is released?


  6. well George I’m sure we have listened to many a former good striker say that you can create space by standing still, let the defenders be drawn to the ball or the man with the ball


  7. well the EPL season finishes tomorrow, and then we can get down to the real business of football on Monday, the Transfer Cup. which sadly for AFC will be disrupted for six days by the build up to and playing of the FA Cup Final this day week

    Liked by 1 person

  8. reports from Portugal say that agent Kia Joorabchian, is trying to force the transfer of Joelson (17) to Arsenal, for a possible fee of £15M, despite the lad having a much larger buy out clause. It seem Joorabchian is not agreeing to any more contract talks over extending the lads deal. Sporting are away to Benfica and the young winger has dropped out of their squad and reports suggest Joorabchian and reps from Arsenal are flying out to Lisbon on Monday for talks over the transfer.


  9. it seems Emmi Martinez is a target for newly promoted Leeds Utd. They tried to sign him last summer and look to have maintained their interest in him.


  10. Leno is back in full training, will be interesting to see if he is brought back in to the starting 11


  11. Arteta said yesterday that he wants new signings to help give him a team that can change between 3 different formations, even during the one game. That we have to be adaptable to allow us to break down teams, if one formation does not work we need to be able to change it without having to bring on subs and without causing us problems. He says quality players can cope with these changes but we don’t currently have enough quality players. He summed it up by saying the League Table does not lie


  12. Ozil once again pictured in the training photos, as he has been since prior to the Liverpool game 10 days ago, but still no sign of Guendouzi


  13. That’s a very interesting post on the stats, Eduardo.


  14. well Andrew I’ve in the last year taken up the sport of Pickelball,(sort of a short form of tennis, played on a badminton sized court) don’t know if you have ever seen it, but there is a pro league in the USA, and its growing across Europe and rest of the world now. But it seems in recent years stats have become big in it too, where players now leave opponents shots despite thinking they are in, as there is a high percentage chance of it being out, such as certain drive shots, shots above waist level. I’ve been told that the pros now go into detail on opponents shot completion stats, and will leave their returns on certain shots cos there is a higher chance of the opponents shot being out than of them winning the rally on their return.
    One big thing is that in the higher grades and pro grades they do less with their serves than players lower down the grades, the high player just makes sure every serve is in, they don’t put the fancy spins and flicks on it, as its a game you only score in when serving, its vital to keep the serve in, and at a higher level the better players can deal with spins, and power serves, so you gain little by risking it all on a big serve. While at my level I have some leeway to try things on serve as I often face players who find either power or spin a problem, in fact I can find it a problem to return myself. Myself and my doubles partner have a simple philosophy re tactics, we can take risks when the serving team, as if we lose the rally we only lose a serve, but when we are the receiving team, we play much safer, its about not losing the point, we are prepared for far longer rallies, while as servers we will attack far far more balls, even ones we really shouldn’t.


  15. Arteta (Xhaka) “When I arrived I had a really high opinion of him, I knew him really well. I tried to convince him he could have a place here where he could enjoy his career, that his family could be happy here. He’s a player that when he commits he goes 100%.”


  16. Leeds want Martinez….based on Kepa, Alison , they should be quoted £90m should Arsenal be willing to sell the leagues best keeper


  17. the thing is Mandy, now that he has had a taste of being in the team, will he be willing to be second choice again, especially if Leeds who are now in the EPL want him as first choice. I don’t see us keeping both Leno and Martinez for next season, one will go, who plays in the FA Cup final on Saturday might make the other want to leave.


  18. Is Leno possibly fit for the final?
    But agree, nice to have two of the best keepers in the league. Both have some different qualities, love them both but to me Martinez shades it at the moment, though Leno is also decent and performed admirably during Emery’s shambles and the transition that followed, young with huge potential, it is said Bayern admire. This club has always had great keepers, good to see a continuation


  19. Firstly George I was just saying there wasn’t any debate in any same people’s mind. The way I expressed it was in jest.
    On the keeper issue they are both excellent keepers and although Leno is more experienced I think Martinez is better in the air and so controls his area better. If we had to sell one I would sell Leno especially as we would get more for him.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. George.,I am surprised to see such an article from you as Dennis Bergkamp is miles ahead of Alexis Sanchez as a footballer. Wonder which thought made you write this?
    Though I may differ from you on some points that Akexis was a faliure at Arsenal I would disagree. He brought some success at Arsenal with his spirited performances. He might not be a team Player but he had some individual qualities surely. His goal against United in the 3-0 demolition at the Emirates was Epic. He had a few others memorable ones as well. I think we finished 2nd in his first year at the club. Didn’t we?
    Chile won there 2 Copa Americas with Alexis Sanchez.

    However Dennis Bergkamp was surely a pkayer from another planet. His Statue at the Emirates sums it up for me.


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