Arsene Wenger insists he's not trying to send a message to Alexis SanchezArsene Wenger insists he's not trying to send a message to Alexis Sanchez
The 28-year-old, who has only just returned to full fitness after a period out, was left on the bench for the visit to Stamford Bridge on Sunday but, despite a host of changes, was selected from the start against the League One side in the EFL Cup on Wednesday evening.
Wenger rejected talk of any ulterior motive and instead insists he is merely easing Sanchez back into action. Asked if he was sending his star man a message Wenger was adamant.
"No, not at all, that’s going into quick conclusions," he said. "Alexis Sanchez has been out and injured, I thought he was short on Sunday physically. I played him last night to give him more competition."
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Sanchez tried and failed to engineer a move to Manchester City in the summer and is understood to be dismayed at missing out on a dream move to the Etihad.
He is yet to pen new terms with the Gunners and looks all but certain to leave on a free at the end of the season, but Wenger has reiterated he remains firmly in his plans.
"Look, there’s no disguised attitude on my side. I just try to get him back to full fitness," he added. "The Europa League and League Cup is important, I try to give him competition and get him back to his best. I gave him a long holiday. He came back not very fit, then he got injured. The injury plus the rest was a bit long.
"I left him on the pitch for 90 minutes so he could have a real go.
"All the players are, he’s not more than any other (in my plans). Sanchez could have played (vs Chelsea) if he was 100 percent fit at the start. In one game I go with three strikers, the three that don’t play will play midweek, no matter the competition."