Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has played down any notion of a falling-out with star forward Alexis Sánchez.
The Chilean international was dropped to the bench for the Gunners’ 3-1 defeat at the hands of Liverpool on Saturday, and reports on Sunday night had suggested that he was removed from the starting lineup as punishment for a blazing row involving his teammates earlier in the week.
Wenger, however, insists that this is not the case and that there is no problem between Sánchez and any other member of the Arsenal playing or coaching staff.
“I am not aware [of a falling-out between Alexis and his teammates], nothing at all. Completely false. I understand you have to fill newspapers.
“I explained after the game I decided to go for a more direct option — that was the unique reason for my decision.”
Olivier Giroud was instead preferred to Alexis to lead Arsenal’s line, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck behind him, and the visitors noticeably struggled to get into the game until his second-half introduction.
Despite this, Wenger is still not sure if Alexis will start against Bayern Munich on Tuesday night. Arsenal are effectively out of the competition having suffered a 5-1 hammering in Munich in the first leg, but with Mesut Ozil almost certainly still sidelined through illness, keeping their best player out again (for whatever reason) is effectively waving the white flag.
Wenger “hasn’t decided yet” as to whether Sanchez will start against Bayern. #AFC
— Mark Mann-Bryans (@MarkyMBryans) March 6, 2017
At this point it surely still seems more likely than not that Sánchez will start at the Emirates this week, but if the relationship between the player and Wenger has deteriorated as much as the weekend reports were claiming it has, then the manager might continue to make an example of him.