25 February 2016

Alexis sends Man U a signal of intent; there will be blood...

He's been lying dormant lately, though his latent power has been on tantalising display of late. He was a one-man wrecking crew against his former club, dribbling defenders and drawing fouls but ultimately falling short of the promised land, frustrated in his efforts to elevate us over Barça. Though he came away empty-handed, he delivered a determination and drive that had been somewhat lacking in recent weeks—highlighted by his failure to score in more than 400 minutes of playing time across six appearances. Surely, he's set to go off. Did I mention that Man U have barely enough defenders to field a back line worthy of the name? If Alexis isn't already chomping at the bit, he's surely licking his chops...

Against FC Midtjylland, Van Gaal sent on a back line that included 19 year-old debutante Joe Riley and 22 year-old Guillermo Varela (who does have 135 minutes of Prem action under his belt), who featured either side of 20 year-old Patrick McNair (who's logged all of 311 Prem minutes). Slot in attacking midfielder Ander Herrera as a defensive midfielder, and you've got yourself a recipe for a delicious Chilean explosion of epic levels.

Even against his former teammates, those who had to know that he loves to cut in to his right, Alexis carved up an experienced, savvy defense that featured the likes of Alves, Piqué, and Busquets. We have to restrain ourselves for fear of needing to change undergarments when we think of what Alexis might achieve against Riley, Varela, and McNair.

Consider also the notion that Alexis is still finding his way back from a hamstring injury that knocked him out of all of December and most of January; in other words, he is still playing his way back into form—and the rest of the squad is still relearning how to play alongside him. Once he finds his groove, he'll lay waste to whichever squad has the misfortune of finding itself in his path. Even if he hasn't been scoring goals, he's been knocking rather loudly, rudely, and insistently on the door, and he's on the edge of kicking the door straight of its hinges. He's lain dormant since late November, when he last erupted for two goals and two assists against Dinamo Zagreb and Norwich.

Mere minnows, we might say; how can we expect him to deliver similar performances against "mighty" Man U, and at Old Trafford? For what it's worth, one of his most-magnificent performances of the season came when Man U paid the Emirates a visit—Alexis was in full pomp at the time, having found a hat-trick against Leicester, a goal and and assist against Olympiacos, and, of course, a brace against Man U.

At a risk of overstating things, the man has waited—laying in wait, one hopes—and is ready to pounce. Man U are down but not quite out. Led by Alexis, we have a chance to all but eliminate them from contention. Alexis had his dagger out against Barça; something tells me he'll draw first blood and then some against Man U...