Arsène Wenger has insisted he is not seeking to make any sort of point to Alexis Sánchez over his selections of the forward so far this season.
Sánchez tried and failed to force a move to Manchester City before the closure of the summer transfer window and Wenger has used him since as a starter in the Europa League and Carabao Cup but only as a substitute in the Premier League.
Sánchez was granted extended summer leave after his involvement for Chile at the Confederations Cup and he was forced to delay his return to pre-season training because of an illness. He then suffered an abdominal injury, and his first appearance of the season came in the starting XI at Liverpool on 27 August in the 4-0 defeat.
Since then, Wenger has used him off the bench in the league games against Bournemouth and Chelsea and as a starter in the cups. He completed the 90 minutes against Köln in the Europa League last week and Doncaster Rovers in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night. He scored Arsenal’s equaliser in the 3-1 win over Köln.
As ever, the body language experts have scrutinised Sánchez and plenty has been read into his moments of frustration. But Wenger maintains that Sánchez’s focus is on the job in hand at Arsenal and giving his best for the final year of his contract at the club.
“Alexis is not distracted, not at all – I think that is coming to very quick conclusions,” the manager said. “He has been out and injured. I thought he was still a bit short physically on Sunday [at Chelsea] and I played him against Doncaster to give him more competition. Is he happy at the club? That is the impression I have, yes.
“There is no disguised attitude on my side [over the selection policy]. I just try to get him back to full fitness and for me the Europa League and the League Cup is important, as well.
“I just try to give him competition and to get him back to his best because I gave him a long holiday. He came back not really fit and it took us time to get him back and then he got injured. If you add the injury plus the rest time it was a bit long but against Doncaster, you could see that he is coming back sharp now. I left him on the pitch, as well, for 90 minutes because I wanted him to have a real go.”
Wenger confirmed that Danny Welbeck, who injured his groin against Chelsea, would be out until mid-October, at least, and the forward’s absence would appear to make it easier for him to restore Sánchez to the starting team in the league against West Bromwich Albion on Monday night.
Wenger also reported that Mesut Özil, who missed the Chelsea game with a slight knee problem, was primed to return to full training with the squad while Calum Chambers would be out until after the upcoming international break with a recurrence of a hip problem.
The Guardian Sport