Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted "Alexis Sanchez was not very close" to playing during the 5-0 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday 1 February – leaving doubts over whether the Chilean international will be able to return for the crucial trip to Tottenham Hotspur.
The Gunners will visit White Hart Lane on Saturday 7 February in a decisive derby for the Premier League top four, as Wenger's side are currently fifth in the table just two points above Spurs.
Sanchez picked up a hamstring strain last week following the FA Cup win over Brighton and Hove Albion, when the Chilean star just played the last 20 minutes at the Amex Stadium after replacing Theo Walcott.
Before the game against Villa Wenger confirmed Sanchez was in doubt for the match due to a minor muscle injury. When asked after the game whether the Chilean international was close to playing at all, the boss said, according to the club official website: "He was not very close today."
Meanwhile, Sanchez himself congratulated his team-mates over the victory but admitted his frustration over missing the game.
Nevertheless, Wenger's side barely missed their leading scorer and managed to get five goals for the first time this season.
In this sense Wenger praised both Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil who scored one goal each even though they have just returned from a long-term period on the side-lines.
Speaking about Ozil, he said: "I think he still lacks a little bit of competitive edge on sharpness but the quality of his game is exceptional and he's getting back now. He worked very, very hard physically and he's now ready to play again."
Meanwhile, about Walcott's fitness, the manager added: "He needs to get used to contact. Physical contact. In every game he is stronger now."
"I still feel he can score a goal in every game. In his overall game I still think he needs some more sharpness and more contact. He's a very intelligent player and the quality of Theo's game is about the quality of his movement, the quality of his receptions, where he gets the ball."
"He knows where to be dangerous and when he's in front of goal he can score. I was quite surprised because in the first half he was through but then Jores Okore caught up with him and I think that once he's through, you know that nobody can catch him. Okore must be very quick!"