Sulk #2: Alexis Sanchez

Minor tantrum dismissed, major impact praised

Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez

LONDON • Arsene Wenger lavished praise on Alexis Sanchez after Arsenal brushed aside hosts Swansea 4-0 in the Premier League, despite the player's anger at being substituted.

Sanchez scored the final goal on 73 minutes and departed six minutes later on a day, when new manager Paul Clement saw just how big the job of keeping Swansea in the top flight is going to be.

The forward, 28, kicked his gloves away while walking to the bench, but Wenger brushed aside Saturday's "minor" incident as he sought to give the returning Danny Welbeck some game time.

"I thought he was very sharp," said the Arsenal manager of his Chilean star. "I rested him for two weeks and gave him a little breather. I think he benefited from that.

"I gave him another rest for today, so he will benefit from that as well. He's hugely influential.

  • 21

  • Goals Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez has scored in his last 32 Premier League matches.

  • 10

    Assists the Chilean forward has made in that same period.

"But we also have players on the bench who are strikers who need competition.

"All players are frustrated when they come off, some show it, some not. I just make the decision I feel is right. There's no problem."

Sanchez has now scored or assisted 31 goals in his last 32 league appearances and remains the Gunners' most influential player by a distance, yet it was his actions off the pitch, rather than his contribution on it, that provided the main talking point afterwards.

His contract is set to expire in the summer of 2018, and it was reported that talks of an extension are at a standstill as he seeks a significant increase in wages.

Earlier last month, former Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, who is now in charge of Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortune, offered Sanchez a £500,000 (S$870,000) a week deal to join him.

In-form France striker Olivier Giroud gave the visitors a first-half lead before own goals from Jack Cork and Kyle Naughton made the outcome certain.

Wenger was pleased with the overall performance of his team, albeit after a slow start.

"We had some problems getting going, but I put that down to the fact that Swansea played very well in the the first half," said the Frenchman. "They were well organised and they put in an unbelievable amount of work."

His opposite number Clement remained optimistic that Swansea can stay up after the defeat left the Welsh side at the foot of the table, even though only six points separate the bottom six teams.

He said: "In the first half, the game was fairly even. Our defensive shape looked good and they weren't producing clear-cut opportunities.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2017, with the headline 'Minor tantrum dismissed, major impact praised '. Print Edition | Subscribe