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5th March 2017, 21:40 #1
Alexis Sanchez in furious bust-up with angry Arsenal team-mates just days before trip to Liverpool
Alexis Sánchez walked out of training and was involved in a bust-up with angry team-mates days before being dropped for Arsenal’s trip to Liverpool.
The episode casts further doubt over Sánchez’s future, with Paris St-Germain the front-runners ahead of Juventus to sign the Chile striker this summer amid mounting concern over his failure to sign a new contract.
Wenger claimed after Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Liverpool that Sánchez had been dropped for tactical reasons but The Daily Telegraph can reveal it came on the back of an incident that disrupted preparations for their trip to Anfield.
It is also understood that there has been a growing sense within Arsenal that their leading scorer has been behaving selfishly with so many public displays of frustration.
Matters appear to have come to a head last week when it is alleged that Sánchez walked off the training pitch mid-session, for which a number of his team-mates confronted him in the changing room.
Sources claim a row then erupted over Sánchez’s attitude and Wenger decided to put the 28 year-old on the substitutes’ bench at Anfield. Although the decision has received an avalanche of criticism from supporters, pundits and former players, it is believed many Arsenal players back Wenger’s stance.
Mesut Özil also missed the Liverpool defeat through illness, although The Telegraph has been told the German may have been benched at Anfield as well. Özil’s form has dipped and, like Sánchez, he has just over a year left on his contract and is yet to sign another.
Although Sánchez’s team-mates are respectful of his work ethic and playing qualities, there has been irritation at how he has repeatedly drawn attention to his frustrations.
As well as throwing his gloves to the floor following the 3-3 draw against Bournemouth, he made a public show of annoyance at being substituted after scoring when *Arsenal were beating Swansea City 4-0. Wenger was keen to give Danny Welbeck the last 11 minutes of match time following almost a year out with a serious knee injury.
Sánchez also berated Alex *Oxlade-Chamberlain during the 5-1 beating at Bayern Munich and, as the inquest continued, there was a feeling at the club that it was Sánchez *rather than Oxlade-Chamberlain who was not following the game plan.
Wenger made an unconvincing attempt to explain Saturday’s decision with reference to wanting to go “more direct” and “win the balls in the air”. He did also then hint at wider considerations and it remains to be seen if Sánchez will start on Tuesday against Bayern Munich.
Asked if the Sánchez decision was “made for the team”, Wenger cryptically said: “I will explain that later one time. If you make a *decision, you make a decision. *People are always emotional in their analysis to this kind of decision. I believe it’s down to the collective performance.”
Wenger was also adamant that the situation was “not at all” linked to Sánchez’s contract stand-off but looming in the background is firm interest from both Paris St-Germain and Juventus. It is understood that Arsenal’s contract offer to Sánchez is worth around £180,000 a week but he will be conscious of the certainty of better deals elsewhere.
As revealed in January by The Telegraph, PSG have been closely monitoring Sánchez’s situation. If Saturday was an attempt by Wenger to show that no player is bigger than the team, it initially backfired. Arsenal were terrible without Sánchez in the first half and improved in the second when the former Barcelona forward provided the assist for Welbeck’s goal.
“Dropping Sánchez was stunning,” said former Arsenal defender Martin Keown. “I’m struggling to remember a more tepid performance in the last 20 years under Wenger. There was a lack of spirit and fire in their bellies.”
Aside from the FA Cup win over non-League Sutton, it was Arsenal’s fourth defeat in only five matches. They have dropped out of the Champions League qualifying *places and, given that their form is the worst of any top six contender, Wenger’s record of 20 straight top-four finishes is in serious peril.
After emphatic defeats at Chelsea and Bayern, Saturday’s match also added to the likelihood of Wenger leaving in the summer. No decision has been made, although Wenger and the club’s preference had always been to continue their partnership.
Wenger is adamant that the top-four challenge is not the most difficult he has ever faced. “I’ve been asked this question many times in March – we just have to focus on the next games and turn up with performances,” he said. “It’s important not to panic. We have experience. It’s always been tough; sometimes we got there in the last game of the season.”
6th March 2017, 03:21 #2Tape Ball Captain
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I think Alexis is probably set to leave in the summer. A great player like him will never win anything with Arsenal.
PP's own self proclaimed sharpshooter and defender of Islam and Pakistan.
6th March 2017, 09:33 #3
Probably best for Sanchez to leave, the club is going backward under wenger and wont win any major trophies while at the club.