United Kingdom - A year on since moving from Arsenal to Manchester United,
Alexis Sanchez has become little more than an afterthought in the Red Devils'
revival since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took caretaker charge.
Sanchez returns to the Emirates for the first time on Friday
in the FA Cup fourth round as Solskjaer targets an eighth straight win since
replacing the sacked Jose Mourinho.
However, Sanchez has had little impact on United's upturn in
recent weeks with Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford the key players flourishing
since Solskjaer released the shackles imposed by Mourinho's more conservative
Both form and fitness have deserted the Chilean since he
bagged reportedly the most lucrative contract in Premier League history last
January in a swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan head to Arsenal.
Sanchez scored 80 goals in 166 games for the Gunners but has
managed just four in 32 appearances over the past year for United.
Mourinho staunchly defended Sanchez during his first six
months at Old Trafford, but even the Portuguese's patience ran out after a
string of poor performances this season.
Hamstring and thigh injuries have hampered his attempts to
get back into the side under Solskjaer, but the Norwegian has found a winning
formula in the understanding formed between Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse
Sanchez has started just once, in the previous round of the
FA Cup against Reading, since the change in management.
Solskjaer has insisted he will get the chance to impress,
but as part of his intention to rotate his front line with United still
involved in three competitions.
"There are the three who play the most but then you've
got Romelu (Lukaku), you've got Juan (Mata), you've got Alexis, so I've got a
front six I can rotate with," said Solskjaer.
"I used to be one of four strikers when we played with
two. Now we have six forwards and we play with three most of the time.
"We'll be OK to be able to rotate and there's enough
games and playing time."
A bit part role is not what United had in mind when they
presented Sanchez to much fanfare 12 months ago having beaten rivals Manchester
City to his signature.
However, Arsenal have also suffered the aftereffects of the
deal that took Sanchez to United.
Like Sanchez, Mesut Ozil was entering the final six months
of his contract at the Emirates a year ago.
Desperate to not lose two of their marquee players on the
cheap, Arsenal handed the German a new three-and-a-half-year deal worth a
reported £350,000 a week.
Yet, Ozil has also increasingly found himself on the bench
or even dropped from Arsenal boss Unai Emery's squad in recent weeks with the
Spaniard preferring the more energetic approach of Granit Xhaka, Lucas
Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Aaron Ramsey in midfield.
Ozil's new deal has also financially hamstrung Emery's
attempts to impose his own stamp on Arsenal after 22 years under Arsene Wenger.
The former Paris Saint-Germain coach admitted earlier this
month the club cannot afford to make signings on a permanent basis this month,
while Ramsey is set to join Juventus on a free transfer after contract
negotiations with the Welsh international broke down.
As team-mates Sanchez and Ozil were the star attractions of
an Arsenal side that won the FA Cup in 2015 and 2017.
Come Friday there are likely to be relegated to a side show
on the substitutes bench with both clubs left to regret the massive salaries
they signed up to a year ago.