Sanchez treble puts Arsenal in good spirits

LONDON • Arsene Wenger has warned Arsenal's Premier League rivals that the Gunners are back in the title race with Alexis Sanchez ready to lead their charge.

Gunners forward Sanchez inspired a 5-2 win at Leicester on Saturday that, combined with Manchester City's defeat by Tottenham, left Wenger's men in fourth spot, just three points behind new leaders Manchester United.

Sanchez bagged a hat-trick to open his account for the season and signal the end of a below-par start to the campaign. And Wenger believes the Chile international is back up to speed after his close-season efforts at the Copa America, while his team are ready to challenge City, United and champions Chelsea for the title.

"Sanchez is back to his level. He won a big competition with Chile - the Copa America - and to adjust again to a competitive level when you come back takes some time," said the Arsenal manager.

"We could see in training already a different player in the last week or two. He showed that in this game and overall, I thought we always looked dangerous going forwards.

"Overall, he is a striker who is mobile and works hard for the team and when the team play well, he can score goals."

Sanchez's treble, plus goals from Theo Walcott and substitute Olivier Giroud, gave Arsenal the perfect response to last weekend's ill-tempered 2-0 defeat by Chelsea. Now Wenger's men are targeting a similar reaction in the Champions League.

They host Greek side Olympiakos tomorrow night looking for an improvement on their 2-1 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb in their first European outing of the season. They could welcome back Francis Coquelin from a knee injury but they will be without Mathieu Flamini, who limped off in the first half at the King Power Stadium.

Jamie Vardy gave Leicester a 13th-minute lead and his second goal of the game a minute from full-time put him at the top of the Premier League goal-scoring chart with six for the season.

But it was not enough to extend Leicester's unbeaten start to the season.

"We are sad because we wanted to continue to be unbeaten but I think when you play against Arsenal, United, Chelsea, City, that's bonus points for us if we get anything," Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri said.

"It's important to learn something but now the reaction is important in the next match. The players showed the maximum character."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2015, with the headline 'Sanchez treble puts Arsenal in good spirits'. Print Edition | Subscribe