Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has dispelled claims that he is punishing Alexis Sanchez for the forward’s desire to leave Arsenal during the last transfer window by limiting his game time in the English Premier League.
Sanchez’s only Premier League start this season was in the 4-0 thrashing at Liverpool in August, while he was a second-half substitute in Arsenal’s home win over Bournemouth and their 0-0 draw with Chelsea last Sunday.
Wenger reacted to a question posed to him during his news conference on Thursday: “Not at all, that’s going to very quick conclusions.
“He’s been out and injured and I thought he was a little bit short physically on Sunday [against Chelsea]. I played him last night to give him more competition.
“There’s no disguised attitude on my side. I just try to get him back to full fitness. I just try to give him competition and get him back to his best.
“He had a long holiday and came back not really fit and then he got injured. But last night, you could see he’s coming back sharp and I left him on for 90 minutes so he could have a real go.
“All the players are important, he’s not more than any other. I used the team at Chelsea who could be strong on the counter-attack and fight hard. Sanchez could have played if he had been fit.”
Wenger also added that he is ready to hand Jack Wilshere a chance in the league but he is still not sure if he will stay at Arsenal beyond the end of the season, when his contract expires.
“I’ve said many times, it’s down to whether he can remain fit,” Wenger said during his pre-match conference on Thursday ahead of the league clash with West Brom on Monday at the Emirates.
“I think he’s an Arsenal man and an Arsenal player. He’d certainly want to. I don’t know, we haven’t spoken about that. We said at the start of the season we have to see what kind of influence he can have throughout the season.”
Wenger also expressed his delight at the way the club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette is adapting to the team, despite him having scored only two goals this term.
“He’s adapted to the team play, he connects well with the other players, he’s disciplined and works hard for the team,” he said. “I’m very pleased on a technical and tactical aspect.
“He still needs to adapt to the physical aspect of the Premier League, which maybe takes a little time.”
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