Thursday 20 October 2016

Arsene Wenger hopes Alexis Sanchez can maintain form after international break

Published 14/10/2015 | 14:16

Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez has been away with Chile during the international break
Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez has been away with Chile during the international break

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is hopeful Alexis Sanchez should return fit from international duty with Chile ready to help fire the Gunners' Barclays Premier League campaign at Watford.

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Sanchez smashed six goals in his last three club appearances before heading off with La Roja for their opening 2018 World Cup qualifiers, where he netted in the win against Brazil as well as a brace in Tuesday's 4-3 victory over Peru.

The industrious 26-year-old was reported to have been carrying a slight groin problem after coming of towards the end of the 3-0 route of Manchester United on October 4, which saw Arsenal move to second in the table.

Wenger, though, hopes Sanchez will show no ill effects from his jet-setting ahead of Saturday's late kick off at Vicarage Road, which will be swiftly followed by the visit of Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

"From the internationals we only have positive news," Wenger said on the club's official website,

"We are still waiting for (Joel) Campbell, Alexis and (David) Ospina to return, but they all texted back to say they are okay, so we just have to see if they were objective in their assessment."

Like most Premier League sides, Arsenal had a large contingent away on international duty.

Forward Olivier Giroud, who has found himself playing back-up to England frontman Theo Walcott in recent matches, scored twice for France in their friendly against Denmark, while playmaker Mesut Ozil continued his good domestic form as Germany beat Georgia.

Midfielder Aaron Ramsey was on target for Wales as they defeated Andorra to celebrate reaching the Euro 2016 finals and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also laid down a marker with a goal as Roy Hodgson's squad completed a perfect qualifying campaign in Lithuania.

Wenger has plenty of options, and could be boosted by the return of centre-back Laurent Koscielny, who has been out since the end of September with a hamstring injury.

"Koscielny has a slight chance to be back on Saturday. He has a definite test tomorrow," the Arsenal boss confirmed.

"(Mikel) Arteta and (Mathieu) Flamini are also (now) back in full training. We need to see how they are and how confident they are, but we can't rule it out."

Arsenal host the club's Annual General Meeting at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday morning.

It has been reported Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal's second largest shareholder, has asked for a detailed explanation of a £3million payment to the company of majority owner Stan Kroenke.

Shareholders are also said to be asking pre-submitted questions of the club's transfer strategy, which saw only one addition during the summer window, that of veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech from Chelsea.

Arsenal recently again reported robust financial results, which showed cash reserves of some £193.1m.

Wenger will, as usual, address the AGM directly in a speech, while Kroenke, who is a non-executive director, could also front questions along with chief executive Ivan Gazidis and chairman Sir Chips Keswick.

Press Association

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