Another Alexis Sanchez tantrum: Should Arsenal be worried?
Anger after being substituted against Swansea prompts speculation player is unhappy with the Gunners
Arsenal kept their flickering hopes of a title challenge alive on Saturday, being Swansea 4-0. But there was more evidence of frustration from their star player Alexis Sanchez, who was furious at being substituted and cut a dejected figure on the bench after being taken off.
Sanchez put in a man-of-the-match performance and scored the Gunners' fourth goal at the Liberty Stadium, before being taken out of the game after 79 minutes.
He was withdrawn alongside Mesut Ozil once the game was safe. However, there was a marked difference in their demeanours, says Jeremy Wilson of the Daily Telegraph.
He writes: "While Mesut Ozil obediently trotted off when his number was raised, Sanchez first stood motionless in apparent shock. He then began muttering and though there was a shake of the hand for Danny Welbeck and a pat on the back from [Arsene] Wenger, he volleyed his gloves towards the dugout before sitting with his head in his hands and a coat covering his face."
The reaction should serve as a warning to the Gunners, adds Wilson. "Sanchez is not only Arsenal's best player just now but arguably the most influential in the entire league. He also has only 17 months remaining on his contract and, should Arsenal fail this season to compete seriously for either the Premier league or Champions League, he looks like a man who will seriously review his career."
With Arsenal a long way behind Chelsea in the title race and the future of Wenger unclear, it is no surprise the player is considering his options, says Mark Ogden of ESPN.
"Sanchez, whose petulant reaction to being substituted during Saturday's victory at Swansea was a worrying development, has shown no sign he is willing to sit down and thrash out new terms, with the Chile forward justifiably able to cite the uncertainty over Wenger as a roadblock to any agreement on his part," he says.
However, Saturday's performance proved how valuable he is to the squad. He was at his "fizzing best", says Nick Miller of The Guardian, and Wenger refused to be concerned about his reaction to being substituted, contrasting it with the attitude of other high profile players in recent days.
"After a week in which Dimitri Payet and Diego Costa proved not quite so enthusiastic about playing for their clubs, Sanchez's desire to do the opposite might even be of some comfort to Wenger," says Miller.
Some even think Sanchez is the victim of "witch hunt", which Chris Wheatley of Goal.com arguing his reaction has been taken out of context.
"Why isn't Sanchez allowed to be open with his feelings and show the kind of passion which has made him such a hit in the Premier League?" he asks.
Those claiming Sanchez's reaction shows he wants to leave have forgotten similar episodes last season when his contract was not an issue.