Arsene Wenger has stood by his decision to substitute Alexis Sanchez with 10 minutes left against Swansea with Arsenal four nil up and cruising.
The Chilean forward, who had looked sharp after a fortnight’s rest, threw a strop when he was subbed to allow Danny Welbeck some precious minutes towards full fitness. That, of course, meant that he was the focus of the post-match chatter, not for his performance, but for his attitude.
“He was very sharp,” Wenger said at his press conference.
“You know I rested him for two weeks and gave him a little breather. I think he benefitted from that and I gave him another rest today so he will benefit from that as well.
“Look, he is hugely influential, Sanchez. You look at the numbers, he had scored 13 goals, seven assists, now 14 goals. So he was involved in about 25 goals in our team. But we also had players on the bench who are strikers, who need competition. We were 4-0 up. Ozil as well comes back from sickness so it was a good opportunity not to be stupid.”
Wenger was then asked about Alexis’ reaction to being taken off. “All the players are frustrated when they come off, some show it, some not.
“I am long enough in the job to know that.
“I just make the decision I feel is right and that’s it. Nothing more than that.
“He’s a good guy who gives a lot and wants to do well, always, for the team. There is no problem.
“But every culture is different. Some South Americans are a bit different to Europeans, Southern Europeans are different to northern Europeans. You have to respect that. That’s why we are a multi-national team.”
But it wasn’t all positive from the manager, who admitted that he would prefer to see no reaction than the one we witnessed from Alexis. “No, I prefer nothing. I prefer to score goals and not to concede goals, that is all I like. But all the players like the game, I think after you are more extroverted. That’s minor. I think looking at the game tonight, that’s really minor, minor, minor.”
He is, of course, correct, but this will have no doubt annoyed Arsene more than he’s admitting. He’s a manager who believes in the team far ahead of the individual.
So will he be speaking to Alexis about it, asked one journalist? “We speak always, about everything. Honestly I cannot even answer. I don’t look, I don’t look at that.
“I look at how well the players do who come on, how comfortable they are, because Danny Welbeck has not played for two years.
“That’s for me much more important than an individual response. That is vital when a player 25 years of age with regular play in the national team comes on, you have an opportunity to give him game time – that’s something that is vital when you come back from such a long injury.”