14 February 2016

A Chilean volcano is set to erupt!

Several recent events suggest that a long-dormant Chilean volcano, which has been showing increasing activity since January, may be likely to erupt. The mountain, known as the Nevado de Durácell, reaches over 1.68m in elevation, and has a set of pectorals totaling over two square meters in area. He has a long record of eruptions, with historical documentation from the 17th century. Radiocarbon evidence suggest that the most recent eruptions that took place about six matches ago. The Nevado de Durácell complex, which had previously averaged about one eruption per match, had been relatively quiescent since an eruption in late 2015. Sticking roughly to that schedule, the complex began to show signs of returning to activity with an earthquake in January 2016. Long story short, Alexis is a rumbling volcano who's ready to explode.

The last time he faced Leicester, of course, he did erupt for a hat-trick, part of a scorching series of appearances in which he delivered seven goals and an assist in four appearances. Since then, though, he's gone all but dormant except for the two goal, one assist eruption against Dinamo Zagreb. He's been issuing warnings of late—an assist against Norwich, a goal against Burnley—and his quiescence should end in volcanic fashion against Leicester.

Who would've thought that this of all fixtures might mark the threshold between Arsenal winning or losing the Prem? Lose, and we see a door slam very firmly in our faces. Win, and we shoulder that door wide open. Draw, well, we've got our foot caught in the door. Enough with the door-metaphor, though. Leicester have fought hard and played well to get to where they stand, but we can't let soft-headed sentimentality cloud our judgment when cold-hearted ruthlessness has to impel us towards the top. Alexis Sánchez, though he's still finding his way back to full fitness, shall awaken in volcanic fashion.

Leicester is likely to pack the box, something they've been doing recently and something they'll do all the more in such a vital fixture from which they hope to nick a point if not more. As such, the pace of Walcott, even if he were in form (which he's not), will be thoroughly negated. Giroud will do what he does, Greco-Roman wrestling with Morgan and Huth. Alexis stands out as the only player in the squad who can both create for himself and make himself available to others. For as predictable as his cut-move to the right is, he still executes it well enough to find space for a shot or to slot a pass through a thicket for a teammate to finish.

Sunday will mark Alexis's fifth appearance since his long injury-absence knocked him out for all of December and most of January. In addition to his goal against Burnley, he's issued warnings and rumblings in recent weeks, with a goal-line clearance and a brilliant save denying him against Southampton and a number of chances created against Bournemouth. In other words, the threat he's posed in recent weeks has been latent.

The problem this poses for Leicester is that Alexis is poised to be lethal. Unlike anyone else on the pitch come Sunday, he'll be running with fresh legs, having played just 283 minutes in four matches since the end of November. As impressive as Leicester have been, weary legs and jangled nerves suggest that they're on the edge of imploding. Making matters worse, one of the Prem's most mercurial players is on the verge of something volcanic.

Alexis, you are unleashed.