If I were this close to Alexis Sanchez, you can bet my hand would find a way to travel just a bit further... (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Alexis Sánchez, El Niño Maravilla of Udinese, faces no competition for Player In My Pocket for this week. Udinese has scored eight goals in its last two matches (save for the Coppa Italia, which is on as I write this) and although Sánchez scored only two of those goals, he's bagged four in the last four Serie A matches. The Chilean is en fuego and I'm not talking just his looks.
Sánchez was playing as a left winger when the Little Zebras brought him on board, but this season he's shifted into the hole, playing behind front man Antonio Di Natale. This shift is familiar to Aston Villa fans, as it's what Ashley Young is meant to be doing, and we might also take some comfort in it. With four of Alexi's five goals coming in the last four matches, it seems it may have taken him awhile to grow into the role. Perhaps if we're just a bit more patient with Ash, the goals will flow.
The Boy Wonder has been lighting up the black and white stripes of Udinese. He's unpredictable, tearing up the opposing defenses. Sánchez is a perfect example of a player who can't be described by stats alone. Looking at his numbers, you see just two assists. Yet much of Di Natale's 14 goals in 19 matches can be put down to the work of his fellow forward, who creates the space that allows Di Natale to score.
Most of Sánchez's goals this season haven't been the ones that set tongues wagging. There's been no wonder goal comparable to the one scored by Zlatan Ibrahimović this weekend. But any time a 5'6" player scores with his head, I think it's worth mentioning (Alexi did it against Milan two weeks ago). But his trickery and knack for creating chances have caught the attention of top clubs, including Chelsea. The Blues have their eyes on Sánchez, undoubtedly feeling he'll fit in well to their 4-3-3 system, particularly with Nicolas Anelka underperforming this season. Yet Udinese have made it known--sort of--that Sánchez is going nowhere in January,
Sánchez has said himself that he wants to help Udinese make it to Europe this season, and that if they finish in the top four, he's going nowhere. While Chelsea fans may be cheering for an Udinese stumble, I want to keep watching the Boy Wonder tearing up the Serie A defenses. Forza Udinese! (Just not at the expense of my Napoli).