Tuesday 18 December 2018

Wenger backs 'frustrated' Sanchez to find golden touch

Arsene Wenger. Photo: PA
Arsene Wenger. Photo: PA

Nick Szczepanik

Saturday afternoon at the Emirates Stadium was frustrating for two attacking players of whom much was expected this season. But their managers both insist that better times are on the way.

Alexis Sanchez started the 2017-18 campaign late after representing Chile in the Confederations Cup and disgruntled because a possible move to Manchester City failed to materialise.

And it is probably no coincidence that he has yet to reach his previous heights.

Tammy Abraham created Swansea's opener for Sam Clucas with a well-weighted pass, but the opening arose as the result of a slip by Laurent Koscielny and the Chelsea loanee otherwise found it hard to make an impression.

A season feeding on scraps in a struggling side may form part of a useful all-round football education as a contrast to last season's 26 goals while on loan at Bristol City.

As for Sanchez, he forced an excellent save from Swansea City and former Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, but he was unable to contribute directly as the hosts turned a first-half deficit into victory just when it looked as though they were about to be the victims of the sort of shock result that Crystal Palace inflicted on Chelsea, and Huddersfield Town on Manchester United.

Instead, the praise went to Sead Kolasinac, the Bosnia-Herzegovina wing-back, who scored the equaliser and created the winner for Aaron Ramsey.

Spotlight

Sanchez, though, will inevitably be in the spotlight when Arsenal visit City next weekend.

Arsene Wenger's 801st league match promises to be even more challenging than Saturday's 800th, but he believes he can count on Sanchez, even though City are expected to move for him again - either in January or when his contract expires in the summer.

"No, I am not concerned," he said. "When you are a football player, you have a social contract with the rest of the team and I never question that. Once you don't respect that, it's difficult to say that you play football."

Of more concern should be the Chilean's patchy form, especially in front of goal. A year ago he had scored eight goals for Arsenal, compared to two this season.

Wenger said: "He is chasing a goal so he's a bit frustrated when he doesn't score, like all goalscorers. But I'm not worried about it. He works hard and it will come back quickly."

Is he trying too hard and attempting to force situations? "You can never try too hard," Wenger said. "At the moment he's marked well, but he still creates dangerous situations."

© Daily Telegraph, London

Telegraph.co.uk

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