Wenger: Alexis is playing for fitness, it’s not a statement

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Arsene Wenger says Alexis Sanchez played the full 90 minutes against Doncaster Rovers because he’s still building up his fitness having missed most of Arsenal’s pre-season preparations.

Denying suggestions that he’s chosen to field the Chile international – who wanted to leave the club this summer – in the Europa League and Carabao Cup instead of recent Premier League matches, because he’s not fully focused, Wenger explained:

“No, not at all. That’s going into very quick conclusions, not at all. Alex Sanchez has been out and injured and I thought he was still a bit short on Sunday, physically. And I played him as well last night to give him more competition.

Asked if the player is happy to be at Arsenal for the season, Wenger added: “That’s the impression I have.”

Asked again, this time by the Evening Standard’s James Olley, whether there’s more to Alexis’ absence from the Chelsea game, Wenger reasserted his position.

“There’s no disguised attitude on my side, I just try to get him back to full fitness.

“For me the Europa League, the League Cup last night is important as well. I just try to give him competition and to get him back to his best.

“I gave him a long holiday and this year he had a real rest, he came back not really fit and then he got injured. If you add the injury and the rest time it was a bit long.

“Last night you could see he’s coming back sharp now and I left him on the pitch for 90 minutes because I wanted him to have a real go.

“All the players are [central to my plans], he’s not more than any other. I used the team at Chelsea who could be strong on counter-attacks and fight very hard and Sanchez could have played at the start if he was 100 per cent.

“For me there is no real hierarchy, I have six or seven strikers. If I go for three strikers, the three who have not played will play in midweek no matter what competition it is. There’s nothing calculated.”

So…all eyes on the team selection for the West Bromwich Albion game on Monday. Given Danny Welbeck’s absence, due to a groin injury, you can’t help but think Alexis will be given a start on the left.

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