Arsene Wenger has defended his decision to play Alexis Sanchez against Manchester United on the weekend. The Arsenal forward suffered an injury scare while on international duty but recovered in time to star for Chile against Uruguay last Tuesday.
The Gunners manager was obviously aware of the problems but decided to let the Chilean play the full 90 minutes at the Old Trafford on Saturday.
Speaking to the press post-match, Wenger argued that his team selection was justified by the quality Sanchez adds to the squad.
“It’s very unusual [to play someone after that],” Wenger told Arsenal.com.
“I chose him because Alexis is a guy who can take people on and I knew that would be a quality that would work.
“He is good on the counter-attack, good in short spaces as well. He’s always a player who is not scared of anybody.”
Despite wearing heavy strapping on his right thigh, the 27-year-old pulled through until the final whistle but clearly tired as the match went on. However, the Arsenal boss took the opportunity to praise the Chilean’s performance.
“He played very well in the first half but we didn’t give him enough service in the second half because we dropped off too much and we played too many balls in our own half,” Wenger added.
“We didn’t give him enough support by coming out more. For a guy who played a decisive game on Wednesday morning, and then travelling after, it’s remarkable.”
While Sanchez got to start as the main man upfront, it was substitute Olivier Giroud who saved Arsenal’s unbeaten run with that dramatic last-minute equaliser and Wenger believes it will prove to be an important result.
“When you’re 1-0 down and you come back to 1-1 with one minute to go, it feels like more than a draw, that’s for sure,” the manager said.
“I hope it strengthens the belief inside the squad that no matter what happens, we can always come back.
“As long as you’re playing many big games, you can give games to everybody. It’s more than that. It’s just the understanding and camaraderie in the side.
“It’s the common target you share. Sometimes a player won’t play in October and then afterwards he’ll play every game until January. That’s part of it.”
This was the second time in the Premier League that Giroud has made a result-changing impact after coming on as a sub. The Frenchman did the same after coming on against Sunderland several weeks ago, scoring two goals just minutes after taking to the field in the 4-1 win.
Although Wenger remains adamant on continuing to start with Sanchez, Olivier Giroud’s impact from the bench might soon lead to a change in Arsene’s tactics. For now, Gunners fans can continue watching Sanchez as he absolutely refuses to give in and rest and continues to add numbers to his scintillating form this season.