Arsene Wenger insists dropping Alexis Sanchez is down to fitness and 'nothing calculated'
Chilean forward tried to force a move to Manchester City but the deal fell through on transfer deadline day.
Arsene Wenger has warned Alexis Sanchez he will have to earn his place back in Arsenal's starting line-up after his failed attempt to force a move to Manchester City.
Sanchez, 28, was close to joining City before last month's transfer deadline after his refusal to sign a new contract convinced Wenger to sell him.
But the deal fell through when Arsenal were unable to land a replacement for Sanchez, leaving the Chile forward in the awkward position of having to remain at the club at least until January.
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Sanchez, out of contract at the end of the season, has yet to make a Premier League start following the transfer saga and found himself instead selected for recent Europa League and League Cup fixtures.
With West Bromwich Albion visiting the Emirates Stadium on Monday, Wenger insisted Sanchez would only return to his strongest starting team if his form justifies it.
Asked if Sanchez was central to his plans, Wenger said: "Not more than any other. There is no real hierarchy. I used the team at Chelsea who could be strong on the counter-attack and fight very hard.
"I have six or seven strikers but if I go in one game with three strikers, the three who have not played will play in mid-week no matter what game that is. But that is nothing calculated. There is no disguised attitude on my side.
"He came back not really fit and then he got injured. If you add the injury plus the rest time it was a bit long, but on Wednesday (against Doncaster) I left him on the pitch for 90 minutes because I wanted him to have a real go."
Lagging behind the early Premier League pace-setters after a spluttering spell, Arsenal already have no margin for error if they are to mount a title challenge.
One of the keys to an Arsenal revival will be France striker Alexandre Lacazette finding form after a tepid start following his pre-season move from Lyon.
"He connects well with the other players. He still needs to adapt to the physical aspects of the Premier League and that will take maybe a little bit of time," Wenger said.
Updated: September 24, 2017 12:10 PM