Arsene Wenger has explained his decision to leave Alexis Sanchez on the bench for Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Liverpool at Anfield.
The Chilean was surprisingly left out with Olivier GIroud starting as the central striker while Danny Welbeck was also handed a start against Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Arsenal went 2-0 down to the Reds before Sanchez was introduced at the break and made an instant impact, setting up Welbeck as Arsenal grabbed a goal back.
However, the visitors were unable to complete the comeback with Georginio Wijnaldum sealing victory on the counter late on as Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners.
Speaking after the game Wenger admitted his decision to omit Sanchez was a mistake and explained why he had opted to leave the 28-year-old out.
“Yes [it did backfire] but I felt that in the first half the strikers suffered because we didn’t dominate in the midfield and in the second half you could see that it was easier because Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud were much better, so it’s always debatable,” he told Sky Sports.
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“The thinking was that we had to go more direct and I wanted to play two players who were strong in the air and after that to bring on Alexis Sanchez in the second half.
“We did go direct in the first half. We didn’t create any chances and we didn’t make enough of our corners.
“I am strong enough and lucid enough to analyse. I don’t deny Alexis Sanchez is a great player – I bought him – but this was my plan.
“The collective performance was not good enough in the first half and that is the more rational explanation.
“I think in the first half we suffered from a lack of competition but it was a game of two halves and in the second half we did well.”
Wenger’s decision to leave Sanchez out came as a huge shock and it was little surprise to see Arsenal improve in the second half, with his introduction giving the whole team a visible lift.