Sunday 17 December 2017

Arsene Wenger: Alexis Sanchez given the same treatment as all Arsenal's players

Alexis Sanchez has scored six Arsenal goals this season
Alexis Sanchez has scored six Arsenal goals this season

Arsene Wenger insists there is no bespoke treatment for Alexis Sanchez at Arsenal as the Chilean settles into his role as the club's main striker.

The 27-year-old has been operating centrally for the Gunners for much of the current campaign having previously been seen by Wenger as more of a wide player.

Sanchez has scored six goals so far this season and has looked more and more comfortable as a striker.

He has been substituted in two of Arsenal's last three games and on both occasions, against Swansea and Ludogorets, the former Barcelona forward has looked less than impressed.

But Wenger says Sanchez is just as likely to be rested or replaced as any other member of his squad as he looks to keep all of his players fresh.

"They all recognise it after the game but during the game they want to stay on the pitch," he said when asked about Sanchez's reaction to being substituted.

"I have played football - I was tired and I wanted to stay on the pitch - because you want to play. There is a difference between acknowledging it and wanting to stay on the pitch. You want to play even when you are tired.

"For me he is not a special case. He is a player like everybody else. When I decide to take him off, I take him off.

"There is no special case. He has his own character but he is not treated differently from everybody else."

Wenger, who has lost fellow striker Lucas Perez for up to two months with an ankle injury suffered in Tuesday's EFL Cup win over Reading, believes Sanchez's long-term position is that of a striker after injuries to the likes of Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud saw him given his chance through the middle.

"I see him there because he is the kind of guy, he is provocative," Wenger replied when asked if he saw Sanchez remaining in a central position.

"He has a short technique and can always create something. He has a good mixture between scoring and giving the final ball.

"In my taste, he still comes too much to the ball, because Alexis Sanchez likes to have the ball. But that's why when we have Theo Walcott - it balances well, because when he comes, Walcott goes. This is a good mixture, a good working unit.

"I had other players, I had Welbeck, I had Giroud, who in my opinion are more central players than Alexis. Alexis came here as a winger and he wanted always to play there.

"When I tried him there a few times, I remember I tried him at Aston Villa and I took him off at half-time. Or at Everton, I put Giroud on when we were 2-0 down in the first game of the season.

"Maybe I made up my mind that he is more of a winger. But I didn't give up and I think he is happy there."

Alexis is expected to start as the striker when Arsenal travel to face the Premier League's bottom club Sunderland on Saturday.

Perez, the summer signing from Deportivo La Caruna suffered ankle ligament damage after a robust challenge from Reading's Danzell Gravenberch in the 2-0 cup win.

And Wenger believes it was a deliberate act which now could see him without his £17million striker for eight weeks.

"It's very frustrating, of course he is absolutely gutted," said Wenger.

"Because it's an injury coming from nowhere, and a stupid one, because it was a deliberate kick.

"What is most important is that he's out for six to eight weeks."

While Perez is missing and Granit Xhaka is still serving a ban, Arsenal could also be without Walcott and Nacho Monreal at the Stadium of Light as the pair require late tests on a hamstring and muscular problem, respectively.

Santi Cazorla is also likely to be missing once more but there is some good news on the injury front for Wenger as Aaron Ramsey is expected to be involved for the first time since injuring his hamstring on the opening weekend of the season.

Press Association

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