Alexis Sanchez has admitted that fear of another serious injury has stopped him from performing at his best for Arsenal this season.
The Chilean forward burst onto the scene in the last campaign, scoring 24 goals across all competitions for the Gunners but has struggled to replicate that form.
This time last year, he had scored 20 goals but has just 12 to his name so far this time around. That smaller tally is at least in part down to the two months he spent on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
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Sanchez pulled up with the problem during a 1-1 draw with Norwich last November and returned to find his touch in front of goal deserting him. Since his comeback in late January, he has found the back of the net just three times in 15 games.
Now, the former Barcelona star has admitted that the thought of another significant spell in the treatment room has weighed heavily on his mind and contributed to his poor form.
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Fear of injury
He told Premier League World: “Before my injury I was 100 per cent fit. I was feeling well. After the injury I wanted to get back but it was hard.
“I had a setback and when I played a match, I was scared I would get injured again because the thing I like most in the world is playing football and when I can’t play, I feel sad.”
Sanchez's form, or lack thereof, has been indicative of Arsenal's disappointing campaign. With the title calling out to be won, the Gunners failed to take advantage of the opportunities handed to them and now sit 11 points behind leaders Leicester City.
Few fans would have predicted such a dramatic downfall, especially after seeing their team storm past Manchester United in a 3-0 drubbing last October. Sanchez scored twice in that game, but believes the team spirit they showed should stand as a benchmark for his team-mates.
He said: “Before that match, we all had hunger and desire to win — you could see that in the eyes of the players before we went on to the pitch.
“When all the players have that look of hunger of wanting to win things, it’s difficult for another team to beat us.”
The Ozil partnership
While Sanchez has been underperforming, his Arsenal team-mate Mesut Ozil has had by far his best season at the Emirates. With 18 Premier League assists, the playmaker will break the all-time record with three more in the current campaign. Naturally, Sanchez was more than happy to praise the German.
“Ozil is a fantastic player,” he said. “When I’m on top form, 100 per cent fit, because he has such quality, he can give me the ball with ease and that sets me up for scoring.”