ARSENAL SWEAT OVER SANCHEZ FITNESS AHEAD MAN UTD CLASH
Arsenal will assess forward Alexis Sanchez on his return from international duty with Chile, but look set to again have to do without playmaker Santi Cazorla for Saturday’s trip to Manchester United.
Sanchez is flying back to London after scoring twice as Chile beat Uruguay 3-1 in their World Cup qualifier in Santiago to get their bid to secure one of the four automatic places in Russia back on track.
The forward, though, had missed the goalless draw against Colombia in Barranquilla after suffering a hamstring problem – with Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger warning it would be a ‘suicidal decision’ to play him and risk further injury
Sanchez, who has scored eight goals for Arsenal this season, will be checked over by the Arsenal medical staff once he reports back into the club’s London Colney training base as Wenger looks to fine tune preparations for Saturday’s crucial lunchtime kick-off at Old Trafford.
But the Arsenal attacker speaking to local reporters said: “I travel today to London, I will train [with Arsenal] on Friday and play on Saturday at Manchester, no problem with me.”
While the Gunners will be hoping to have Sanchez available, midfielder Cazorla is not expecting to be involved this weekend.
Cazorla has not featured since picking up an Achilles injury during the 6-0 Champions League win over Ludogorets at the Emirates Stadium on October 19.
Speaking to Spanish radio station Cadena COPE, Cazorla confirmed his return was not imminent.
‘I still don’t know the exact time. I am trying to return as soon as possible to be with the team again, but I cannot say if it will be soon or if I still have a few weeks left,’ he said.
‘It is what I do not know, but hopefully it will be as soon as possible.’
Wenger will be hoping for a clean bill of health from all of his returning internationals, having lost the services of forward Lucas Perez to an ankle injury just ahead of the international break.
Mesut Ozil was not involved in Germany’s experimental line-up for their goalless draw against Italy in Milan on Tuesday night.
The attacking midfielder has been in impressive form this season, scoring a fine individual goal in the 3-2 win away over Ludogorets, which secured Arsenal’s place in the Champions League knockout stages once again.
Ozil has challenged his team-mates to produce another stand-out display to get the required result against one of their direct Premier League rivals – just as they did when dismantling Chelsea 3-0 in September.
‘[We need to] win every game, get as many points as possible and also be successful against the big teams, like we were against Chelsea,’ Ozil said on Arsenal Player.
‘We have the quality to beat any team and that’s what we want to show this season.
‘You can see that the big clubs at the top have quality, and that we have to win every game because of how tight it is at the top.
‘Our goal has to be to look at ourselves. If we win the games, we’ll be at the top at the end.’