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Thursday 14 December 2017

Arsenal without Sanchez for season opener

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger

Arsenal will be without their injured forward Alexis Sanchez for their opening Premier League game against Leicester tonight.

The Chile international suffered an abdominal injury in training and could miss two weeks, while defender Laurent Koscielny is suspended for the visit of the Foxes.  Manager Arsene Wenger has several injury doubts as Mesut Ozil (ankle), Aaron Ramsey (muscular), Per Mertesacker (facial) and Jack Wilshere (leg) could all be absent while Gabriel (knee), Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin (both ankle) are definitely sidelined.

Wenger has revealed how uncertainty over his future last season created a "lack of clarity in the dressing room" and saw players asking him what was going on. 

Wenger eventually signed a new two-year contract extension following an end to a campaign which finished on a high with victory in the FA Cup final after failing to secure Champions League qualification for the first time under his long tenure. 

The 67-year-old Frenchman said: "I had an impact on the season, because at some stage the players came to see me and said: 'What's going on boss? Where do you go?' 

"I created, with me not deciding, a lack of clarity in the dressing room and there is nothing worse than that in the dressing room.  "When you are not completely in or the players feel you are not completely in, it is difficult to tell them we go (out to win). 

"At some stage, I had to tell them, 'Look guys, I am with you, but we have to win games'." 

Wenger was also asked about his eventual successor at the Emirates Stadium. The Frenchman replied: "I would like (if) somebody who comes in gets the club to the next level. 

"I just want to make sure that the guy that comes in after me is in a condition that he could work well." 

Meanwhile, Craig Shakespeare hopes Leicester can end their Arsenal hoodoo tonight.  Leicester have yet to beat the Gunners in the Premier League era with their last league win coming in 1983.

"We haven't been able to beat them yet but there's always a first time and it would be nice to think it would be Friday night. The players are champing at the bit to get started," he said.

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