Arsenal will spend this international break fretting over the fitness of Alexis Sanchez, and the Gunners want the former Barcelona man to return to London. Sanchez has already been ruled out of tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier against Colombia, but Chile are hoping they can ready him for next week’s game against Uruguay.
Initially, they described the problem as a ‘low grade’ muscular injury, but reports in England say Arsenal staff fear he could face six weeks out. Arsene Wenger can’t have too many complaints about Chile wanting Sanchez to hang around; he rarely rests Sanchez himself and these are crucial games in their troublesome qualification campaign.
Wenger’s side have been far better at managing injuries so far this season, though November is the month where they have historically suffered on this front. Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud were given extended breaks following the European Championship in France. Giroud and Aaron Ramsey were held back until very recently to give them maximum time to recover from injuries.
With a very deep squad, Arsenal do not have to rush key players back as they did in the past. That said, losing Sanchez for any length of time would be a real blow. The Gunners’ priority at this stage must be avoiding a layoff that runs into months rather than weeks.
Elsewhere, Ozil has been speaking about Wenger’s desire to see him score more goals. The German’s goal scoring has been a real feature of his play this season, aided by the fact that Sanchez’s deployment through the middle leaves plenty of space for midfield runners. The former Real Madrid midfielder is deceptively quick and is well capable of running in behind and beating an offside trap. Perhaps because he has little reputation for scoring goals, often these runs seem to go undetected. Speaking to the club’s official website, the World Cup winner said:
“He sees in training that when I have a chance, the ball mostly goes in.
“When we train on finishing, he sees that I score lots of goals. He knows that I’m ice-cold in front of goal and he wants to see that in matches.
“I’m doing that now – I go forward and, while I haven’t changed my game, I’m focusing on scoring goals myself too.”
Finally, summer signing Lucas Perez has criticised Reading’s Danzell Gravenberch tackle that put the Spanish striker out for up to two months. In the latter stages of Arsenal’s 2-0 win over the Royals in the EFL Cup fourth round, Gravenberch stamped on Perez’s achilles in a manner that looked awfully deliberate.
The game was a dead rubber by this stage, and with Perez close to the touchline the tackle was completely needless. Perez has shown plenty of promise during his fleeting Arsenal appearances, but struggled for starts because Arsenal’s forward line was working well. Wenger must wish he had Perez to call upon with Sanchez a doubt. Speaking to Marca, Perez said:
“The injury is a shame, but we have to fight.
“I didn’t understand where the player was going with the tackle, but these are just occupational hazards.”
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