Wednesday 13 December 2017

Alexis Sanchez playing for Chile on Tuesday would be 'suicidal', says Arsene Wenger

Alexis Sánchez
Alexis Sánchez

Jeremy Wilson

Arsene Wenger has demanded that Arsenal medics see the scan to Alexis Sanchez’s injured hamstring amid fears that the “suicidal” decision is made for him to play next Tuesday against Uruguay.

Sanchez suffered what was originally reported to be a “low grade” calf injury during training on Tuesday with Chile and has not travelled to Colombia for Thursday’s World Cup qualifying match but Arsenal’s latest information is that the damage is to his hamstring.

Wenger is now fearful of a repeat of last season, when he made the mistake to play Sanchez against Norwich City last November despite his forward complaining of a tight hamstring in the week before the game.

The reports in Chile are of a nine millimetre tear and, with Sanchez receiving treatment in Santiago on the injury, Wenger is adamant that his own staff should now be given the chance to make their own assessment of the damage. 

“I got a text last night (to say) that he has a hamstring injury,” said Wenger. “The team from Chile has travelled without him and they kept him to try and get him fit to play Uruguay for the second game on Tuesday night.

“I believe that with a hamstring injury we have to get access for our medical staff to the MRI scan to see what grade it is, how bad it is and make absolutely sure they don’t make any suicidal decision that could harm his future for two or three months.

“That is absolutely important. It’s a grey area between the national team and the club team and of course they look at their own results which I can understand but we have to preserve the health of Alexis Sanchez. He always wants to play and that’s where it is a more sensitive case because he’s always ready to play even when injured.”

Wenger’s concerns will hardly have been eased by Sanchez’s comments yesterday. He said that the injury was “hurting a bit” but that he would be “back for Tuesday”.

Sanchez’s schedule with Chile has been a constant concern to Wenger, with his player having already accumulated more than 100 international caps by the age of 27 even while largely based in Europe. He had not missed a Chile match since March 2013, taking in 50 consecutive games. A statement from the Chile FA said that Sanchez would remain with their medics ahead of the game against Uruguay, which could be critical to their chances of qualifying for the Russia World Cup in 2018.

Sanchez, who has scored eight goals for Arsenal this season as their main central striker, played the entire 90 minutes of Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Tottenham. He has also played all 15 of Arsenal’s Premier League and Champions League games this season, even after helping Chile to win the Copa America during the summer.

Arsenal lost Sanchez for almost two months in November last season when he suffered a hamstring tear at a time when Wenger was already concerned about his game-load but he still ended the 2015-16 season having played 58 times for club and country. Sanchez has played 50 or more games in each of the past three seasons.

Arsenal are themselves facing an important sequence of matches in November, including a trip to Old Trafford to face Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United as well as their Champions League group decider against Paris St Germain.

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