LONDON • Arsene Wenger confirmed he expects Alexis Sanchez's future to be resolved by today after the forward's absence was sorely felt in Arsenal's 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Sunday.
Arsenal looked short of quality at Dean Court as Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal and Olivier Giroud were also missing.
Sky Sports pundit and former Liverpool star Jamie Redknapp said it was probably "the worst Arsenal team I have seen", and Gunners fans will be waiting to see who Wenger replaces Sanchez with, should the Chile international leave the club this week.
The 29-year-old, who becomes a free agent at the end of this season, is a target for Manchester United and Manchester City. United are strong contenders for his signature because of their willingness to meet Arsenal's £35 million (S$63.8 million) asking price, with the possibility of Henrikh Mkhitaryan being included as part of any deal.
Wenger insists all options remain open but felt unable to select the player for Sunday's visit to the Vitality Stadium although he insisted Sanchez was willing to play.
"Alexis would have played," said Wenger. "But it's a difficult period for him. He's always been committed until now but he could have moved yesterday, today or not.
"It will be decided in the next 48 hours. It was a bit difficult for him because he was on standby, a little bit. That's why I decided not to do it. He did not refuse to play."
Premier League talking points
1: CARROLL COULD BE CHELSEA’S UNLIKELY TARGET
Chelsea have endured three straight goalless draws in all competitions for the first time in their history and could explore West Ham striker Andy Carroll’s availability.
Antonio Conte had hoped to secure a target man over the summer and is apparently an admirer of Carroll despite his patchy injury record. Blues striker Alvaro Morata barely had a sniff against 10-man Leicester on Saturday and has only three goals in his past 14 appearances – none in his past five.
2: EVANS SHOWS WHY BIGGER CLUBS ARE INTERESTED
There are not many centre-backs in England who have proved themselves able to cope with the best attackers in the biggest matches.
But Jonny Evans is one, still at his physical peak at 30 playing for West Bromwich Albion who, before Saturday, had not won in 20 games. But they are still second from bottom and whether they can stay up depends a lot on whether Evans stays. Arsenal and Manchester City are interested in buying him, and with good reason.
3: ALLARDYCE NEEDS TO GET EVERTON FIRING AGAIN
Sam Allardyce was candid enough, after Everton’s 4-0 capitulation at Tottenham, to admit his honeymoon period is over.
The Toffees have scored once from four shots on target in their last five league games, picking up two points and, if they do not rediscover the vigour they showed after his arrival then a return to the relegation battle cannot be discounted.
Asked if a deal was imminent, the Frenchman added: "I don't master the rhythm of that, but it could happen today, tomorrow or not at all. That's why I didn't take a decision (to select him)."
Arsenal have been linked with a £35 million move for Bordeaux forward Malcom but Wenger refused to confirm his interest in the Brazilian. When pressed on whether the 20-year-old is a target, the Frenchman said: "It's better I don't come out on any specific name."
Sky Sports pundit Guillem Balague identified Arsenal's target as Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was suspended by the Bundesliga club on Sunday for failing to attend a team meeting - the third time he has been disciplined in two seasons.
The 28-year-old Gabon international, with 13 goals in 15 league games this season, missed Dortmund's goalless draw against Wolfsburg on Sunday.
"Alexis Sanchez not fully agreed yet. United favourites and next 2-3 days key (nobody takes City out of equation yet)," tweeted Balague. "Meanwhile Arsenal want to close soon deal for Aubameyang, left out of squad today, for €60m (S$97.4 million)."