Alexis Sánchez has “a very slight chance to be back” for Arsenal’s crucial Premier League clash against Manchester City on Monday night, according to Gunners manager Arsene Wenger. Sánchez has been out since suffering a hamstring injury against Norwich City at the end of November, but his return would be a major boost for a game that will see second-placed Arsenal host a City team sitting a point and a place below them in the Premier League table. Speaking on Thursday, Wenger suggested the door wasn’t completely closed on the Chilean forward playing a part.
“We are quite far from the game but at the moment, everybody who played against Aston Villa is available for Monday night and there are one or two possible comebacks,” he said at his pre-match press conference. “Maybe there is a very slight chance for Sánchez to be in the squad again but it is too early to be sure about it. He’s running but not participating in full training.”
However, Wenger also suggested that there will be caution taken with his return. The Arsenal manager received criticism when Sánchez suffered his injury, just days after Wenger revealed the player had experienced a “hamstring scare” and after weeks of discussing how tired the 26-year-old had been. Wenger has now stressed that he will not be relying solely on the word of Sánchez to determine whether he is fit to take the field on Monday.
“I believe that it’s normal that he wants to play,” he added. “You want him to be keen to play. He respects all the decisions I make and that is what you want from him.
“It is not trust in a negative way. Some of them are so keen to forget that they have pain somewhere that they say they I’m alright when they are not. You know the players and their psychological profile, and you take that into account, then you get your scientific advice and then you trust your gut feeling as well and the whole together makes a decision. Yes, [I will take it out of his hands] because he’s always ready.”
Arsenal still have plenty of other injury concerns. Santi Cazorla suffered a knee ligament problem in the same match as Sánchez was ruled out and is expected to be sidelined for at least three months. That timeline could well see him miss both legs of Arsenal’s recently revealed Champions League Round of 16 encounter against Barcelona. Francis Coquelin could also be a doubt for those matchups, having been given a recovery time of three months to recover from a knee injury when he went down four weeks ago.
Wenger will hope to have Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicly before then, with the trio of long-term casualties expected to return to training in January. It had previously been suggested that Mikel Arteta could be back from a calf problem for Monday’s encounter, although Wenger didn’t go into further detail in his press conference.
Arsenal have won three successive matches in all competitions, ensuring a place in the knockout phase of the Champions League and staying just two points off Premier League leaders Leicester City.