Martin Keown says he understands why Arsène Wenger hasn’t started Alexis Sanchez in a Premier League game so far this season.
Keown was answering questions in his column in the Daily Mail, and was asked about Wenger’s decision to bench Alexis for Chelsea away only to start him against Doncaster. Keown responded: “Wenger is just managing his minutes. He’s doing his pre-season really. For him, he’s missed a lot of football. He didn’t do a lot of training. I get it.
“Welbeck is now injured, so Sanchez will probably come into that left-hand side role. He’s a special player. But he has to take note of what happened with the team against Chelsea. The collective working together was so important. Sanchez would have sat on the bench and seen the team doing well without him. It’s a bit of a warning.”
If you weren’t paying much attention to what went on before, it would certainly seem as though Alexis had been dropped to the reserve team recently. A sub appearance against Bournemouth, followed by a Europa League start, then another sub appearance against Chelsea, before finally another start against Doncaster Rovers in the League Cup.
But you have to take the context into account.
Against Bournemouth, Alexis’ fitness levels weren’t high enough. The Chilean had played 180 minutes for his national side over the international break and the Chilean media thought he was well off the pace in their two defeats.
So it didn’t make sense to start him that weekend, and the next opportunity was against FC Köln. After the full 90 minutes on that Thursday, it would have been a big risk to play him on Sunday as well. A fully fit Alexis could manage it, but not the Alexis still recovering from his holiday.
Needless to say it will be a different story if Alexis is left out on Monday, given he now has two full matches under his belt and four days of rest between Doncaster and West Brom.
At that point we can start to wonder if he’s really been dropped…