Arsene Wenger has played down concerns over Alexis Sanchez's Arsenal future following a tantrum that followed the enthralling 3-3 Premier League draw at Bournemouth on Tuesday (3 January). The emotional Chilean forward was visibly frustrated at the final whistle, despite sparking a sensational late comeback that saw the Gunners recover from a three-goal deficit to avoid a third successive away defeat. He hurled his gloves to the turf and gesticulated angrily before heading straight down the tunnel.
The Telegraph reports that the bad temper continued in the dressing room, apparently convincing several teammates that Sanchez, who is set to be rested this weekend as Arsenal visit Championship side Preston North End in the third round of the FA Cup, will not sign an extension to a contract due to expire in the summer of 2018.
When quizzed by reporters during a press conference held two days before that visit to Deepdale, Wenger insisted that the 28-year-old's exasperated reaction was entirely normal given the circumstances.
"What is surprising about that? We want to win the games, if you don't you're not happy," he was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. "That is normal. Without passion you do not come back when you are at 70 minutes and 3-0 down. It is exceptional and you need a special response. We are all frustrated. Of course he is fine."
Injuries were the key focus of Wenger's latest media briefing and the Frenchman revealed Santi Cazorla's recovery from ankle surgery is progressing slower than expected. He also confirmed Francis Coquelin was expected to be sidelined for approximately three to four weeks with a hamstring problem that forced his early substitution at Bournemouth, and that Mesut Ozil was set to be assessed by a doctor having been bed-ridden for two weeks with a throat infection.
Lucas Perez could also miss out against Preston due to an ankle complaint, while neither Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott, Per Mertesacker nor Mathieu Debuchy are ready to make a return. David Ospina will start in goal and Danny Welbeck is in line to feature for the first time following an eight-month absence.
Transfer talk was also inevitably on the agenda with the January window now open for business and Wenger, who is set to complete the signing of Hednesford Town left-back Cohen Bramall, again poured cold water on hopes that Arsenal might bring in any new first-team players.
"There is very little hope to find players of that quality [Cazorla and Welbeck] in the transfer market," he said.
Pressed specifically as to whether there had been any offers for full-back duo Debuchy and Jenkinson, he added: "No. We will see what happens."