Sanchez not a shoo-in starter

Wenger says Chilean will have to earn back his Arsenal spot with Lacazette set for Baggies run-out

LONDON • Arsene Wenger has warned Alexis Sanchez that he will have to earn his place back in Arsenal's starting line-up as he seeks to make his first Premier League start since the collapse of his Manchester City move on deadline day.

Sanchez, out of contract at the end of the season, has found himself selected for recent Europa League and League Cup fixtures.

And with West Bromwich Albion visiting the Emirates Stadium today, Wenger insisted the 28-year-old would only return to his first XI if his form justifies it.

When asked if the Chilean was central to his plans, the Arsenal manager said: "Not more than any other. There is no real hierarchy.

"I used the team at Chelsea, who could be strong on the counter-attack and fight very hard.

"I have six or seven strikers, but if I go in one game with three strikers, the three who have not played will play in midweek no matter what game that is.

TRANSITION PERIOD

He connects well with the other players. He still needs to adapt to the physical aspects of the Premier League and that will take maybe a little bit of time.

ARSENE WENGER, Arsenal manager, feels French striker Alexandre Lacazette still needs more time to get up to speed with the Premier League.

"But that is nothing calculated. There is no disguised attitude on my side.

"He came back not really fit and then he got injured. If you add the injury plus the rest time, it was a bit long, but on Wednesday, (in their League Cup third-round win over Doncaster) I left him on the pitch for 90 minutes because I wanted him to have a real go."

Already lagging behind the early Premier League pacesetters after a spluttering start, Arsenal have no margin for error if they are to mount a genuine title challenge.

One of the keys to a Gunners revival will be France striker Alexandre Lacazette finding form after a tepid start following his pre-season move from Lyon.

"He connects well with the other players. He still needs to adapt to the physical aspects of the Premier League and that will take maybe a little bit of time," Wenger said.

West Brom midfielder Gareth Barry will break the Premier League appearance record if he features against Arsenal.

Barry, a former England international, is expected to play in his 633rd top-flight game and break the record set by Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs.

The 36-year-old made his professional debut for Aston Villa in 1998, and has also played for Manchester City and Everton.

"As crazy as it sounds after all these years, my focus will be on winning the game," said Barry.

"When you make your debut as a young kid, you're never setting yourself a target like this. Even when you play 500 games, you think you're coming to the end of your career and you're not expecting to play many more games."

The Baggies are without a win in their last three league games.

Barry could have been lining up in an Arsenal shirt for his milestone moment after Wenger twice tried to sign him.

"I've got massive respect for Arsene for what he's done for the English game," he said. "It would have been good to work under him, but that didn't happen."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ARSENAL V WEST BROM

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2017, with the headline 'Sanchez not a shoo-in starter'. Print Edition | Subscribe