Alexis Sanchez has extra motivation for Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Tottenham due to the time he spent playing for north London rivals Arsenal.
The 33-year-old now plies his trade for Marseille and has enjoyed a successful first few months with the Ligue 1 outfit. The Chile international has bagged six goals from 14 appearances in all competitions. Two of those have come in Europe’s elite club competition and it is all to play for in week six.
Spurs top Group D with eight points to their name. Sporting are second but locked together on seven points with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Marseille sit bottom of the table but, with six points to their name, could top the group with victory over the Premier League outfit.
And Tottenham will finish third in the standings and miss out on the knockout stage if they lose to L’OM in Stade Velodrome.
Sanchez will doubtless play his part. And the South American confessed that he will draw on past experiences from the north London derby this week.
“I have great affection for Arsenal from my time there. I have some great memories with everyone at the club, especially the fans,” he said.
“Beating Spurs every time was a great joy. It was very special and those are memories that I hold dear to my heart.”
Sanchez was a firm fans’ favourite at the Emirates Stadium. He notched 80 goals from 166 outings in all competitions, winning the FA Cup on two occasions.
A move to Manchester United ended in disappointment, with only three goals to his name before a loan switch to Inter Milan.
That became permanent but, once again, he failed to hit the heights, scoring 20 goals from 109 appearances.
His contract was terminated by mutual consent in the summer, with a two-year deal then inked in the south of France.
Sanchez up for Tottenham battle
Sanchez enjoyed plenty of success in matches against the Gunners’ arch-enemies. He only lost once in seven north London derbies, scoring twice.
There is a sizeable Arsenal connection at Marseille. Ex-Gunners Matteo Guendouzi, Nuno Tavares and Sead Kolasinac are in the squad.
And Sanchez insists that they will be fired up for the final group game with so much at stake.
“Every single player has motivation to play and win. We all want to bring the victory back,” he added.
“In the dressing room, there is a lot of passion. Playing in front of the fans with their atmosphere is super important and that will drive us on.”
Sanchez respect for Conte
Tottenham chief Antonio Conte will not be in the dugout this week after his red card against Sporting.
Sanchez worked under the Italian at Inter and clearly has respect for the Tottenham boss.
“We had a great experience together but he’s a very demanding coach,” he continued. “If you don’t give 100 per cent on the pitch he drops you for the next game.”
And Marseille boss Igor Tudor is thankful that his Spurs counterpart will not be next to him on the sidelines.
“It’s good,” he said. “He has a good impact on the game so it is better that he is not there, but the players are playing, not the coaches.
“Tomorrow we have a great game ahead of us. It really is a top opportunity for the boys to reach the knockout (stage) of the Champions League.
“We’ve had five good games so we need to build on that. But don’t forget we are an outsider. So any chance to get to the knockout stage is great for us.”
Conte knows that a draw will be enough for his side to progress. And a repeat of the 0-0 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt from their last away fixture in Europe will do just nicely.