Arsenal: Sanchez nets double; Ozil compared to club legend; Wenger names favourite ground

Arsene Wenger will have been awake until the early hours of last night hoping that Alexis Sanchez came through Chile’s match against Uruguay unscathed and there appears to be good news. The Arsenal forward scored twice to secure a crucial 3-1 win for Chile, who had fallen behind to Edinson Cavani’s goal. Sanchez had missed Chile’s first World Cup qualifier of this international break against Colombia with a muscular problem, and Wenger had warned against making a ‘suicidal’ decision to play through injury. The Gunners travel to Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime, and although Sanchez appears fit enough to play he will be formally assessed by Arsenal’s medical staff.

Arsenal have a troubling history with picking up damaging injuries in November, losing Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla and Sanchez to long-term injuries 12 months ago. Wenger warned that Sanchez had a hamstring alter before Arsenal’s trip to Norwich, but played him anyway and the former Barcelona man pulled up and missed two months of football in the middle of the season. Arsenal must try and avoid this situation repeating itself, and have a viable alternative in Olivier Giroud. Manchester United away is a fixture that should afford counter-attacking opportunities though, so Wenger will prefer a mobile forward line with Sanchez as its fulcrum. Starting Giroud also robs Arsenal of a valuable option from the bench, with Lucas Perez and Danny Welbeck sidelined.

 

Sanchez as combined superbly with Mesut Ozil this season, an Arsenal legend Robert Pires has compared the German to Dennis Bergkamp. Ozil has enjoyed a fruitful season in front of goal, scoring seven times in all competitions, which has won him plaudits from outside of Arsenal circles. The World Cup winner has enjoyed the space Alexis creates, and has been running beyond the last line of defence far more readily than in previous seasons. Opponents underestimate this side of Ozil’s game so often his movements go undetected. Pires said:

“What’s happened in the head is like a click because he’s scored a lot of goals.

“This is a difference between the last season with Mesut Ozil and now because he’s thinking just for himself, and sometimes when you are in front of the target it is very important to score a goal.

“Mesut has very good qualities, he can normally score a minimum of 12 goals during the Premier League so in my time the maestro was Dennis Bergkamp, and now it is Mesut Ozil.”

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Finally, Wenger will have won plenty of affection among Liverpool fans by naming Anfield as his favourite ground to visit. Arsenal’s long-standing manager has said the stadium has ‘special vibes’ and is one of the most ‘heated’ atmospheres in English football. Wenger has always found Liverpool a difficult place to visits, winning seven of 23 visits and needing six attempts to win his first game there in 2001. Wenger also noted Goodison Park and St James’ Park as particularly atmospheric grounds.

Featured image: All rights reserved by Emrah Partal

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