'Quality talent' Sanchez justifies Wenger praise

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Michael Doyle
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London (AFP) - Alexis Sanchez was hailed as a "fighter and a quality talent player" by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after inspiring the Gunners to a 3-0 Premier League win over basement club Burnley.

Sanchez scored twice, either side of Calum Chambers finding the back of the net, as the hosts' finally broke Burnley's stubborn resistance with three goals inside the final 20 minutes at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Rounding off a good day for the Gunners was the sight of England winger Theo Walcott returning to top-flight football for the first time since suffering a cruciate ligament injury in January.

However, this result rested on Sanchez, who has now scored 10 goals in 16 appearances for Arsenal since joining the north London club in a £30 million ($50.4 million, 37.6 million euros) pre-season move from Barcelona.

Sanchez's determination and force defined the game, and decided it.

The nature of his 70th-minute goal that broke the deadlock was that of an old-fashioned British number-nine, and not what would usually be associated with a player as sleek as the Chilean.

But it was precisely the type of finish Wenger was talking about on Friday when the veteran French manager said Europe was no longer producing "street footballers" of Sanchez's type.

Sanchez brilliantly got between and above the more physically imposing Kieran Trippier and Michael Duff, to impressively head home Arsenal's opening goal.

It was a fine finish, and one that also finished 70 minutes of pure frustration. Burnley had been so bullishly defiant, which made Sanchez's brute force all the more crucial.

"I think we had about 30 crosses today and for a while couldn’t win every header but in the end he got there,” Wenger said.

“The header he scored is more the result of the determination and desire than doing something special technically. He has the attributes of a fighter, and a quality, talent player.

"Since he has played through the middle, he looks more goal dangerous because he is in full confidence, is physically strong, likes to take people on as well and makes good runs," Wenger explained.

Within minutes of Sanchez's first goal, Chambers made it 2-0 from a close-range finish, before the Chilean scored from a similar distance just before the end.

- Walcott return -

At 2-0 up, Arsenal were sufficiently comfortable to bring Walcott on after 10 months out.

"We could give him 12 minutes today, when the game was nearly won," Wenger said. "We could see in his decision-making, his movement is good. He needs now to get used to competition.”

Wenger was just as impressed with the patience Arsenal showed in the face of Burnley's defiance, and the fact they kept a second successive clean sheet following last week's 2-0 win away to Sunderland, where Sanchez scored both goals.

"We look a bit more balanced between offence and defence, and less in trouble when we lose the ball," said Wenger.

"Overall, it was a very satisfying win. For the confidence of the team, it was important to win without conceding a goal," added Wenger, whose side went level on points with third-placed champions Manchester City ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche was also left in admiration of Sanchez, saying: "His movement and energy was incredible. He was non-stop, forget about his quality, his determination was excellent.

"I have told my strikers to look at how he played and take heed."

Defeat left Burnley still searching for their first league win since promotion but Dyche said it was asking a lot of his side to break their duck against teams of Arsenal's quality.

"I think we’ve played six of the top 10 (clubs) so far.

"With all due respect, we’re not prepared for that. I always plan to win, but there are teams more in our market than others.

"I’m not naive. We have to get results, but there has to be reality in our journey."