Antonio Conte is expecting Alexis Sanchez to start when Arsenal take on Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday (10 January) despite the uncertainty surrounding the Chilean's future.

The Gunners forward has been linked with a move to Manchester City during the ongoing January transfer window with recent reports suggesting that Arsenal are willing to sanction the move in order to avoid losing him on a free transfer in the summer.

Sanchez, who earns £140,000-a-week at Arsenal, has not been in the best of form this season which has led to questions regarding his commitment to the Gunners. He has scored seven goals in 19 appearances and remains an integral part of the first-team going into the second-half of the campaign.

Wenger is keen to retain the former Barcelona winger until the end of the season and denied on Tuesday (9 January) that City had made an offer. But Pep Guardiola is keen to take him to the Etihad Stadium this month and is said to have sanctioned a bid in the region of £25m. Conte believes Arsenal will retain the Chilean forward until the end of the season but admitted that anything can happen during the transfer market.

"My expectation is to see the best team from Arsenal. I have this expectation to play against the best team," Conte said during his pre-match press conference, as quoted by the London Evening Standard.

"For sure we are talking about an important player, about a good player. In my opinion I think Sanchez will finish the season at Arsenal...this is my opinion, I don't know.

"I don't know what will happen during the transfer market this month because every team can rely on the transfer market to improve, to become stronger," the Italian coach added.

Chelsea are also facing a transfer dilemma of their own with Eden Hazard stalling on signing a new deal, as Real Madrid circle. The Belgian attacker has been heavily linked with a move to the Spanish capital in recent weeks.

Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez will leave Arsenal either in January or in the summer Getty