Premier League: Wenger hails Sanchez impact as goals flow

Ross McLean
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Alexis Sanchez took his tally for the season to 24 with a double against Hull last night

ARSENAL boss Arsene Wenger admitted that talismanic forward Alexis Sanchez has surpassed all expectations in his debut season in English football after a first-half double at Hull last night edged his side closer to an 18th successive season of Champions League football.

Sanchez, the first Arsenal player since legendary striker Thierry Henry to score 20 goals in his first campaign at the club, took his tally to 24 with two strikes, either side of an Aaron Ramsey effort, before Hull were handed an unlikely lifeline by Stephen Quinn.

Victory saw Arsenal remain third in the Premier League, level on points with deposed title winners Manchester City in second with a game in hand, but move five points clear of Manchester United in fourth, a position that requires the navigation of a potentially perilous qualification round for Europe’s elite club competition.

Arsenal are now unbeaten in 10 matches and have notched 100 goals in all competitions after a sluggish start to the season, and Wenger believes his squad is well set to keep pace with reigning champions Chelsea next term.

“I expected him [Sanchez] to be more of a provider than a goalscorer, especially because I play him on the flank where you have less chances,” said Wenger. “But he has timing and the quality of his runs are very good and he gets in good areas to finish.

“I feel we have made progress. Chelsea are a worthy winner this year in the Premier League because they have been the most consistent team of all. But let’s finish well and prepare well for next season and give them a good fight.

“We do not need to buy a number of players, the basis is there. If we find top world class players we will look at it but we have a very strong squad already in number. Now we want to stay together and start well next season.”

Arsenal surged into the lead shortly before the half hour mark when Sanchez’s curling free-kick deceived Hull keeper Steve Harper after taking a deflection off former Spurs skipper Michael Dawson in the home side’s wall.

Wenger’s side had won their last four top-flight away matches by a one-goal margin but doubled their advantage in the 33rd minute when Ramsey’s deflected shot, following Santi Cazorla’s sublime pass, looped beyond the stranded Harper.

The Arsenal juggernaut continued and the clash was all but ended as a contest in first-half stoppage time as Sanchez sprinted onto Ramsey’s defence-slitting pass before nonchalantly rounding Harper and side-footing home.

Hull retaliated 11 minutes after the restart. Former Sheffield United midfielder Stephen Quinn planted a firm downward header past Arsenal stopper David Ospina, while defeat saw the Tigers slip below Leicester City into 17th place, one point above the drop zone.

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