Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech has highlighted the need to keep Alexis Sanchez fully fit throughout the season, praising his all-action displays since returning from summer exploits at the Copa America. Sanchez inspired Chile to victory on home soil but was given just 10 days rest before returning to North London.
The 26-year-old missed the Community Shield win over Chelsea and failed to score in any of his first eight fixtures amid an uncharacteristically slow start to the campaign. However, since netting a hat-trick in the 5-2 win over Leicester City, Sanchez has scored six goals in his last three games, his latest contribution coming in the form of a double against Manchester United.
But the 3-0 win for Arsenal over United, which saw Mesut Ozil also find the net, came at a cost as Sanchez limped off after 81 minutes with a groin injury. Manager Arsene Wenger says he is powerless to prevent the player linking up with his country for Chile's upcoming World Cup qualifiers, which could see him aggravate the problem further.
Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck currently make up the Gunners' injury list, with the quartet expected to be remain out for an extended period. Ahead of the international break, Cech has praised his teammate for recovering fully to recapture his best form; emphasising Arsenal's need to manage his fitness throughout the campaign.
"It's always hard for the players when you have the Copa America," Cech told Arsenal's official website. "He won it, he was there for a really long time, didn't have much break and then came back and needed to start again.
"You could see that everybody from the Copa America had a slow start, in other teams and competitions as well. We're pleased that he's back with his energy, with his enthusiasm and you can see that he feels confident and with performances like that, it's great for the team.
"We put in the right intensity and the first goal helped. Once you go one up, you can get the game under control. What was good was that we searched for the second and third goals and they came pretty quickly. We managed to get ourselves the advantage and I think we did remarkably well to control the game afterwards."