Gunners to stoke up the fire despite Sanchez's absence

LONDON • Arsenal head to Stoke City today, aiming to register a second victory of the season and divert attention away from continuing questions about the future of Alexis Sanchez.

Arsene Wenger's side kicked off the Premier League campaign last week in exciting fashion by coming from behind to beat Leicester City 4-3 thanks to a late Olivier Giroud winner.

Sanchez, sidelined by an abdominal injury, is out of contract at the end of the season. However, despite interest in him from a number of clubs, Wenger would rather lose him for nothing next year than sell him now.

"We have to make a choice between efficiency on the field and financial interest and most of the time if you can find a good compromise, it's better," said the Arsenal manager. "But in this case, I think I prioritise the fact that he will be useful on the sporting side."

The win over Leicester was the kind of performance that suggested the inconsistencies that dogged Arsenal last term have not gone away.

Wenger will hope a repeat of last season's victory at the bet365 Stadium will make a more compelling case for his side to be considered strong title contenders.

Arsenal won for the first time in seven attempts last May.

"We had a convincing win there and that should inspire us," said the Frenchman. "I don't believe in bogey teams too much. We had a good performance last season and we have to focus on that."

Stoke were beaten 1-0 by Everton last weekend.

Manager Mark Hughes can at least call up new signing Jese Rodriguez today after the Spanish striker completed a season-long loan move from Paris Saint-Germain.

"He is at a club where he can express himself and I think we can give him a platform to excite," said Hughes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


STOKE V ARSENAL

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2017, with the headline 'Gunners to stoke up the fire despite Sanchez's absence'. Print Edition | Subscribe