WhoScored.com, using data from OptaSports, recently put together a concise info-graphic of Alexis Sánchez’s three seasons with FC Barcelona. The most immediately interesting aspect is from the heat maps. While it shows year on year he is consistent in tracking back, his positional instructions appear more defined this season. He is being utilized almost exclusively on the right-wing. More details below.
But has that affected his game? It’s not so clear-cut drawing conclusions from Alexis’ key statistical indicators. His key passes per game are relatively consistent as are dribbles per game. So pertaining to assists, which were nearly 50% better in 2013 versus 2012, that appears to be a result of only a 0.2 improvement in key passes. That does not seem statistically relevant. In what was deemed his worst year, last campaign, Alexis only scored 4 less goals (yes, a 33% decrease) but his assists were up by nearly double.
There is however more correlation with his shots per game and goals. His first season, where most were happy with him, he scored 12 times shooting 1.8 times per match. Last season he was criticized for passing too often and that shows in the numbers with only 1.1 shots per game, a drop of 39%. But then again, his assists were up 50%.
It is clear though that by nearly doubling his shots per game this season, Alexis has already scored 7 goals, only one less than the entirety of 2012. Hopefully this correlation continues, but as a warning, I do not believe Alexis will ever be more than plus/minus 15 goals a season player. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Also football statistics are not yet able to measure other critical elements of players’ games, and Alexis excels in many of those immeasurable aspects of football.