Per Mertesacker says Alexis’ energy and application creates space for his team-mates because opposing teams are so wary of him.
The Chile international has been in fantastic form of late, scoring five goals in his last four games - including two in Thursday night’s victory against West Brom.
Alexis missed more than a month of the season with a hamstring injury in November, but Mertesacker feels he is back to his very best now.
“When he was out, the statistics were not that bad for us - I think we played 10 games without him and won eight or something like that,” the vice-captain said.
“We had quite a good record but over the whole season normally we need him healthy. If he is on the pitch, he always creates space for other players because he draws so much attention and that is key to any team.
“He is a key member of our side and, if he is fully fit, he makes the difference and that is always the case. He is that type of player who gives everything to the team. Those team members are well appreciated.”
Mertesacker was pleased with Arsenal’s performance against West Brom, but feels they still need to be more incisive over the coming weeks.
“It was a difficult situation but I felt we did well from the start by doing what we can do when we play forward, decisive and quick,” he said. “We can put pressure on any team in this league that way.
“But especially in the second half, we need to get another two or three goals normally to get that relaxed situation. There was always a fear that with a couple of chances or set-pieces, the game could change.
“I think we need to be more efficient, especially in the final third. Our overall defending is getting better… and we work together but to finish things off, we need to score more goals.
“We work hard on that, even [on Thursday] you could feel everyone wanted to do the extra metres and that is needed down the stretch in the last couple of games. We need to concentrate on ourselves and get the maximum number of points.”
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