Saturday 19 January 2019

Wenger defends usage of Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez

Arsene Wenger has hit out at suggestions he is gambling with the fitness of Alexis Sanchez.

The forward played the whole of Saturday's 1-1 draw at Manchester United despite suffering a hamstring injury while on international duty with Chile.

Sanchez, who had played and scored twice for his country while carrying the injury, was a doubt for the clash at Old Trafford right up until the morning of the game.

He wore strapping on the affected area and remained on the pitch for the full 90 minutes as Olivier Giroud levelled for the Gunners with just a minute left on the clock.

Sanchez has started more games than any other Arsenal player this season having been shifted to a central attacking role.

The 27-year-old has already hit eight goals and could be rested for tonight's Champions League tie at home to Paris St Germain, having been forced to sit out almost two months last season when he picked up a similar injury at this stage a year ago.

But Wenger, who admitted last week that Sanchez wants to play every game even when he may not be fully fit, defended his selection of the former Barcelona man after suggesting ahead of the United game that it could have been a "suicidal decision" for him to play in Chile's win over Uruguay.

"He had a bit of tightness in his hamstring, but he was checked before the game," Wenger said. "I follow the instructions of the medical staff and the player. If they declare him capable of playing, and the player does as well... I have never forced anyone to play in my life.

"I've never demanded anyone should be injected to play. If a player is 100 per cent, I make a decision. But the suggestions I have forced him to play are wrong, completely wrong. "I had the luxury to give (Mesut) Ozil a break because Germany didn't pick him. Sanchez was not overloaded with games before United, either, as he didn't play in Colombia."

Arsenal v PSG (live EIR SPORT 1/BT SPORT 3, KO 7.45)

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