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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Wenger defends 'committed' Sanchez and maintains hope Chile forward could stay at Arsenal

Sanchez was a surprise omission from the starting side for the League Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea on Wednesday.

Alexis Sanchez, centre, watches on from the substitutes bench during Arsenal's League Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea. John Sibley / Reuters
Alexis Sanchez, centre, watches on from the substitutes bench during Arsenal's League Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea. John Sibley / Reuters

Arsene Wenger insists Alexis Sanchez remains committed to Arsenal even though he left out the Chilean forward for the League Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea.

Wenger opted to keep Sanchez on the bench until the last 25 minutes of Wednesday's 0-0 first leg draw at Stamford Bridge.

It was a bold risk by Wenger given the League Cup represents one of the few chances for Arsenal to win silverware in another frustrating season.

Some Arsenal fans and pundits say Sanchez no longer gives 100 per cent because his contract expires at the end of the season and he has so far refused to sign a new deal amid reports he is a divisive figure in the dressing room.

Although Premier League leaders Manchester City are keen to sign Sanchez after their move for the Chile forward fell through in August, Wenger claimed he is still completely focused on the Arsenal cause despite a series of lacklustre performances.

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"The performance of Alexis Sanchez and the commitment does not depend on the duration of his contract, just depends on the fact when he's on the football pitch he wants to play," Wenger said.

"People don't know Alexis Sanchez. This is a guy completely focused on playing football.

"Did you see how he came on today? How he warmed up? Like a player who wants to play football. He can make a difference between what's going on outside and what's going on on the football pitch.

"He doesn't need to tell me he speaks to anybody else. He doesn't need to alert the club. He can do it on his own.

"We live with facts, not with psychological theories. When you come on to the pitch you play football and give 100 per cent. That's what he does."

Remarkably, Wenger appears to believe Sanchez could still be persuaded to remain in north London.

"I want him to stay for longer," he added. "I have no problem if he signs with us now or in June."

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