When it was announced that Alexis Sanchez had sustained a low-grade muscle tear in training with national team Chile, Arsenal fans everywhere simultaneously held their breath.
The forward has six goals in 11 Premier League appearances so far this season and undoubtedly has a huge impact on the Gunners’ title chances.
Upon hearing the news that Alexis was sidelined, Arsenal wanted the 27-year-old to return to London for treatment. As one of our standout players since signing from Barcelona in 2014, the club wants to see the damage for themselves, assess it further and provide the treatment that we see fit.
“I got a text last night (to say) that he has a hamstring injury,” Wenger told beIN Sports.
“The team from Chile has travelled without him and they kept him to try and get him fit to play Uruguay for the second game on Tuesday night.
“We have to get access for our medical staff to the MRI scan to see what grade it is, how bad it is and make absolutely sure they don’t make any suicidal decision that could harm his future for two or three months.
“That is absolutely important. It’s a grey area between the national team and the club team and of course they look at their own results which I can understand but we have to preserve the health of Alexis Sanchez.
“He always wants to play and that’s where it is a more sensitive case because he’s always ready to play even when injured.”
However, Chile have chosen to keep Alexis in Santiago, suggesting that he could be ‘fit’ to face Uruguay on 15 November.
Although Alexis has said he’s fine and hopes to be ready for the clash having missed out on his country’s 0-0 draw against Colombia, Alexis could have lost his leg and would still claim he’s able to play. The man doesn’t ‘do’ rest; he must be playing at every given opportunity. Therefore, even if he’s not fully fit, he’ll drag himself onto the pitch unless the manager puts his foot down.
The issue here is that because Chile drew their World Cup Qualification match against the Colombians, they’re now in a bit of a predicament.
Chile sit fourth in the World Cup Qualification South America table but it’s only the top two that go through to a home and away play-off match, which decides who goes to the World Cup in 2018.
Chile are now seven points behind table leaders, Brazil, and six behind second place Uruguay, who they’re due to play next.
This means that the chances of Alexis being risked, even if he’s not fully fit are higher than before and him being played while carrying a minor injury could have massive implications for Arsenal’s season since he’s likely to just worsen it.
Alexis has scored 34 goals and assisted 31 in 97 appearances for his country, helping them to Copa America glory two years in a row and winning Player of the Tournament for 2016. If Chile can get away with playing him, they will.
He needs proper rest and Chile’s manager, Juan Antonio Pizzi, risking him now isn’t just selfish, it could be disastrous for Alexis.
“We expected to count on Alexis Sanchez, but he suffered a small injury yesterday and cannot be considered for tomorrow,” Pizzi said.
“Alexis Sanchez’s injury is minor. Lets hope he can be fit to play against Uruguay.
“The decision (to leave Alexis in Santiago) altogether was endorsed by the doctor, who suggested that the trip was going to be worse for him.
“Sanchez has the possibilities to play on Tuesday against Uruguay.”
The Chile FA’s official statement on the situation reads:
“The Medical Corps of the Chilean national team the player Alexis Sanchez has a low-grade muscle injury.
“The athlete will stay in Santiago, under treatment and evaluation to the meeting of Chile to Uruguay.”
Our pals over at Betway have been discussing whether Alexis’ injury could spell the end of Arsenal’s title hopes over in their new installment of Blow the Whistle.
Panelists Tom Clee and Will Rook reckon that the wheels are about to come off in north London as Alexis’ role as a central striker, allowing Mesut Ozil more space, has been instrumental to our positive start to the campaign. Therefore, having him out could put an end to our title challenge before it’s even really begun.
Do you agree with the lads? Or could Arsenal find creativity and fire power in the form of perhaps Theo Walcott or Olivier Giroud?
Get your voice heard over in the comments section and be in with a chance of winning a free £10 bet.