Wednesday 19 December 2018

Arsenal boss slams talk of rift with 'warrior' Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez pictured in training yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Alexis Sanchez pictured in training yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Arsene Wenger claimed reports of a bust-up between Alexis Sanchez and his team-mates were "completely false" as he again defended the decision to drop him against Liverpool.

The Chile forward was surprisingly named as a substitute for Saturday's 3-1 Premier League defeat at Anfield.

Several newspapers claimed he was left out due to an incident with his team-mates before the match and he was said to have walked out in the middle of a training session last week after an argument.

Sanchez has cut an increasingly frustrated figure in recent games as Arsenal's trophy hopes have taken a hit.

The loss to Liverpool followed on from previous league defeats against Watford and Chelsea, while the Gunners face Bayern Munich in the second-leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie tonight having lost 5-1 in Germany last month.

The 28-year-old trained with the squad as normal yesterday and shook hands with Wenger as he made his way onto the club's London Colney training pitch.

And, speaking to the media after the training session, Wenger insisted there are no issues with Sanchez - even if some of his behaviour can be "excessive" at times.

"I am not aware, nothing at all," he said.

"I explained after the game I decided to go for a more direct option, that was the unique reason for my decision."

Asked directly if the reports were true, Wenger said: "Completely false. I understand you have to fill newspapers.

"All the rest, his attitude - he's a committed player and sometimes has excessive behaviours but you have that many times in the history of every squad.

"It's about the team performance, not individuals. It's a team sport and the most important thing is that we focus on our collective. Our game is built on collective expression.

"That is the most important thing, that we focus on what's important and not the individual. Alexis played in all the games and when we didn't perform away from home, we lost as well."

There have been constant questions over Sanchez's future but Wenger, whose own fate at the Emirates Stadium is also up in the air with his contract up in the summer, said it will be up to the club if Sanchez is still an Arsenal player next season.

"Alexis has 15 months of his contract so the decision of will he be here or not will depend completely on Arsenal Football Club and not on anybody else," he said. Sanchez posted on Instagram shortly after the conclusion of the press conference, showing three pictures of him in his Arsenal kit and with a cryptic message which he ended with a note to supporters.

"The true warrior fights not because he hates the ones in front of him, but because he loves those behind him. Let's go Gunners. The only failure is not trying," he wrote.

Arsenal v Bayern Munich (live tv3/bt sport 2, ko 7.45)

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