It wasn't quite a dream debut, but laying on two assists as Manchester United cruised past Yeovil Town in an FA Cup fourth round clash marked a pretty decent first day at the office for Alexis Sanchez. He and his teammates were brought firmly crashing back down to earth on Wednesday [31 January] however after being thoroughly dominated by Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
The Chile international spent much of the game forced to drop deep or face being left on the periphery of the game, starting the match on the left before switching to the right in the second-half.
Anthony Martial started with Sanchez for the first time, combining neatly together as United initially reacted to Christian Eriksen's 11-second opener but struggled thereafter. The France international started in an unfamiliar role on the right before he swapped with Sanchez.
Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic meanwhile provided perhaps their worst performances of the season, both individually and as a unit. Jose Mourinho was made to regret his decision not to name a midfield three capable of doing battle with Spurs, but a home tie against Huddersfield Town on Saturday [3 January] might not call for such a drastic change in approach.
United have perennially struggled to impose themselves in games against high profile opposition but at home to Huddersfield, you would expect a more commanding performance from Pogba, who was replaced at Wembley not because of injury or to keep him fresh, but because of his wretched performance.
The 24-year-old should keep his place after a very audible statement from his manager on Wednesday, but the same cannot be said for Ashley Young. While the 32-year-old has excelled at left-back at times this season, that was not the case in north London. Luke Shaw's run in the first-team was brought to a halt when perhaps his recent performances should have ensured he kept his place at Young's expense. Saturday should see him return.
The arrival of Sanchez in the penultimate week of the January transfer window sparked one major question; where will the new signing play? Against Yeovil, he tormented the opposition driving in from the left, the position he so regularly shone in for Arsenal. There were one or two early flashes of that when he started in the same role against Spurs, but it meant Martial was shifted out to the right.
While their luck didn't change much in the second-half after swapping roles, Mourinho clearly believes his best side includes both players. And with Martial clearly not at home on the right, Saturday may present a good opportunity to see how effective Sanchez can be starting on that side of the pitch, drifting infield to support Romelu Lukaku in a role many envisioned him picking up in United red.
It's a system that will need more fine tuning as the manager seeks to bring the best out of his array of talent.