Saturday 16 December 2017

Cech denies Sanchez was laughing in Bayern defeat

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez reacts during their FA Cup Quarter-Final match with Lincoln City at the Emirates. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez reacts during their FA Cup Quarter-Final match with Lincoln City at the Emirates. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Jeremy Wilson

Petr Cech has denied that Alexis Sánchez was laughing on the bench during Arsenal 5-1 defeat against Bayern Munich and defended the Chile striker against suggestions that he did not care about the aggregate 10-2 loss.

A video showed Cech speaking to Sánchez and the 26-year-old then covering his face and supposedly smirking as he replied but, according to Cech, they were simply discussing what might have been during the game if Arsenal had scored a second goal.

"It is sad, and he was as sad as I have seen him," said Cech. "You are 5-1 down and somebody twists it and says you are laughing on the bench. I found it very disrespectful to the player. But obviously you can take the picture and you can interpret it in the way want.

"The players know exactly what he said and we know how he was hurting and he was as disappointed as anybody."

Sánchez did start on Saturday in a 5-0 win against Lincoln City which again underlined just how polarised the debate over Arsène Wenger's future has become. While a relatively small group of fans protested against the prospect of Wenger extending his contract, the subject of their ire was guiding the club into an 11th FA Cup semi-final.


It is an all-time record - one more than Alex Ferguson - and, while no one is pretending that beating Lincoln represents validation of Wenger's work, it was a reminder that the debate is more nuanced than the usual hero-zero narrative. Wenger's bullish instinct to fight on was again also evident in his blunt assessment of all the analysis that surrounds football.

"It is always interesting to take a distance," he said. "People brainwash you with what they think is right. You have to accept that nothing is good enough."

The context for Wenger's observations was initially Barcelona's comeback against Paris Saint-Germain, and how the impact of refereeing mistakes was overlooked in the rush to acclaim Barca, but there was little doubt that he also feels Arsenal have been unfairly treated.

Read more: John Giles: Smirking Sanchez is Arsenal's best player? I'd say he's now their worst - or certainly their most destructive

Wenger's main gripe surrounds the initial quality of Arsenal's second-leg performance against Bayern Munich and, while they did play well for 55 minutes, it all did rather ignore how they folded after going down to 10 men. Or how they capitulated with 11 men in Munich. And how they have also lost three pivotal Premier League matches since the end of January.

"I watch many games, and it is interesting when you see all the conclusions that come out," he said.

"Sometimes it confirms what people say. Sometimes it doesn't.

"It's down to me to take the right distance. You don't necessarily always need to agree with everybody. I managed about 2,000 games - I might know a little bit." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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