Manchester United vs Arsenal: Arsene Wenger at the mercy of Alexis Sanchez over late decision to play forward

Wenger will have to trust Sanchez when he returns to Arsenal on Friday despite fears over his fitness ahead of Saturday's Premier league clash at Manchester United

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The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger admitted that he is at the mercy of Alexis Sanchez’s honesty as he prepares to welcome the Chilean striker back from international duty. Sanchez scored twice for Chile against Uruguay on Tuesday night but will not return to London Colney until Friday morning, just over 24 hours before Arsenal play Manchester United at Old Trafford.

This means that Wenger has a very late decision to make on Sanchez’s fitness, and will have to be guided by how fit Sanchez says he is. The problem is that Sanchez always says that he is fit to play, and has said that he is ready before when he was not.

Sanchez shook off a hamstring injury to play for Chile, and Wenger was anxious that he might aggravate it over the international break. Now he has to take Sanchez’s word for whether he is fully recovered or not.

“What I will consider is the risk of injury because he played while recovering from a hamstring injury,” Wenger said. “I’ll consider the way he feels as well. On that front you depend on the honesty of the player, how they feel and how they recover.”

Wenger is not fully briefed on Sanchez’s injury yet, but will know more when Sanchez returns to London on Thursday afternoon, and to training on Friday morning.

“I haven’t heard a lot because we didn’t know if he’d play or not,” Wenger said. “In the end they decided to play him. He texted us to tell us he’s in good shape after the game. He came off after 84 minutes and now we have to wait. I see him tomorrow morning and then I will see if he can be involved in the squad or not.”

While Wenger would, ideally, have preferred Sanchez not to play for Chile he knew that he could not stop his star striker from playing in a World Cup qualifier. “You have to trust the medical people from Chile,” Wenger said.

“I completely understand that Alexis wanted to play in qualifiers - they’re not friendlies. Chile are not in a fantastic position to qualify for the World Cup and I understand that Alexis is keen to play for his country in such an important game.”

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