Alexis Sanchez risks Wenger's wrath after Chile display
Chilean scores twice in a brilliant performance against Uruguay, but his thigh was heavily strapped after injury scare
Alexis Sanchez has been hailed as one of the best players in the world after a superb two-goal display for Chile against Uruguay, but Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will have watched his performance from behind the sofa after begging Chile not to play him.
The Gunners boss had pleaded with his Chilean counterpart Juan Antonio Pizzi not to make a "suicidal" decision about Sanchez's fitness after he picked up a muscle injury in training last week. However, Pizzi ignored Wenger's request and picked Sanchez for the World Cup qualifier in Santiago.
The gamble paid off, as Sanchez scored twice for Chile as they ran out 3-1 winners, having fallen behind to an Edinson Cavani goal in the first half. Afterwards, Pizzi described Sanchez as "one of the best players in the world".
However, Sanchez now risks Wenger's wrath after declaring himself fit for the game, says the London Evening Standard.
The winger missed the first of Chile's two games, a 0-0 draw with Colombia, after suffering a "low grade muscle injury" in training, and Wenger said that he wanted the injury assessed by Arsenal's medical team.
However, Sanchez stayed with his national team and returned to training over the weekend, with his thigh heavily strapped, and was subsequently passed fit to play against Uruguay, although his leg remained bandaged.
"But the in-form striker showed no sign of ill-health with two second-half goals to seal Chile's comeback victory," reports the Standard.
"Sanchez's first goal was a sumptuous volley from the edge of the box directly from a throw-in, after he broke away from a defender with a clever feint," says ESPN. "His second came after he ran onto a through-ball and held off two defenders before slotting home with a low shot."
Sanchez came off in the closing stages of the match, and appeared to have survived the game unscathed.
"The striker's performance will go some way to allaying Wenger's fears, with a Premier League fixture against Manchester United at lunchtime on Saturday foremost in his mind," says The Guardian.
And if Wenger is tempted to rest Sanchez for the game against Manchester United, he may face resistance. The Daily Express notes that Sanchez has made it clear in interviews and on social media that he hates being left out and earlier this month stated: "I don't like to rest... I don't like to be out, I get upset, I go home sad, because I train to play, I rest to play. It's my job and I do everything to perform at 100 per cent."
Wenger begs Chile not to play injured Sanchez against Uruguay
An anxious Arsene Wenger has revealed that star striker Alexis Sanchez has injured his hamstring and the Arsenal manager pleaded with Chile not to make a "suicidal decision" in playing him on Tuesday.
Sanchez limped out of training with the Chile squad earlier in the week with what was thought to be a minor calf injury. But as Wenger told beIN Sports: "I got a text last night (explaining) that he has a hamstring injury. The team from Chile has travelled without him and they kept him to try and get him fit to play Uruguay for the second game on Tuesday night."
Wenger's concern about Sanchez, who has been instrumental in helping Arsenal assemble a 16- match unbeaten streak this season, is understandable given that last year he suffered a similar injury and was sidelined for nearly two months.
"I believe that with a hamstring injury we have to get access for our medical staff to the MRI scan to see what grade it is, how bad it is and make absolutely sure they don't make any suicidal decision that could harm his future for two or three months," said the Arsenal manager of a player who has scored eight goals in 15 matches this season. "That is absolutely important. It's a grey area between the national team and the club team and of course they look at their own results which I can understand but we have to preserve the health of Alexis Sanchez."
Wenger knows that if given a choice by Chile ahead of Tuesday's match against Uruguay Sanchez may well pass himself fit. "He always wants to play and that's where it is a more sensitive case because he's always ready to play even when injured."
Arsenal have two crucial fixtures later in the month after the international break, a trip to Manchester United on November 19 and then Paris Saint-Germain at the Emirates on November 23. The winner of that Champions League tie is likely to determine who finishes top of Group A and progresses to an easier tie in the knockout phase.