Too soon for Sanchez to return

Wenger will still field his 'best team' despite injury striking his squad, including Sanchez

LONDON • Alexis Sanchez's hamstring injury will not only rule the Chilean out of Arsenal's FA Cup meeting with Sunderland but also their Premier League trip to Liverpool, Gunners manager Arsene Wenger confirmed yesterday.

Sanchez has not played since Nov 29, when he picked up the strain during a 1-1 draw with Norwich City.

Wenger had allowed him to return to South America for treatment in the hope that it might accelerate his recovery in time to play some part in the festive schedule.

The 26-year-old suffered a setback before Christmas, though, which was initially expected to delay his return until this weekend.

His manager admitted, however, that both Sunderland and the meeting with Liverpool on Wednesday will come "too soon" for Sanchez.

"Liverpool will be too soon as well," said Wenger. "He will maybe be ready for Stoke (next weekend)."

By that time, Sanchez will have been joined at Arsenal by Mohamed Elneny, who is expected to complete his £7.4 million (S$15.5 million) move to the Emirates in the next "two or three days" as Wenger seeks to bolster his resources ahead of their push for a first Premier League title since 2004.

However, Arsenal were dealt a blow yesterday, when Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang confirmed that he has no desire to join the London club.

Wenger is a known admirer of Aubameyang, who has been in prolific form for the Bundesliga club this season, and Arsenal have been linked with a £44.6 million bid for the Gabon international.

"I don't want to go to Arsenal," Aubameyang, who was named African Player of the Year on Thursday, was quoted as saying by The Sun. "I won't leave Dortmund soon."

Wenger's squad have been severely hit by injuries, but the Frenchman is adamant that he will not name a weakened side for today's FA Cup tie against Sunderland.

His counterpart, Sam Allardyce, has already confirmed that he will rest players to conserve energy for the more pressing matter of top-flight survival.

"I don't see why the FA Cup should be ostracised or be neglected because of the Premier League," Wenger said. "When you play in the Champions League, you play on a Wednesday.

"In the Premier League, you play on a Saturday. Why should you not play Saturday, Tuesday or Wednesday? It's no problem.

"Maybe (Sam) has injuries. I cannot speak for him. I can tell you only my point of view - that we want to go for the competition and take it 100 per cent.

"The FA Cup is a great competition. I've won the FA Cup six times. In the whole history, nobody won it more. That means as well that it's not so easy to win it.

"We won it twice in the last two years. We want to stay in the competition and do it again if it's possible."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2016, with the headline 'TOO SOON FOR SANCHEZ TO RETURN'. Print Edition | Subscribe