Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is ready to recall Alexis Sanchez from the start for the Premier League visit to AFC Bournemouth despite ongoing speculation regarding the Chile international's future in north London.
Amid reports Manchester City have submitted a £20m offer for the former Udinese and Barcelona forward, Wenger chose to omit Sanchez from his starting XI for the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The 29-year-old came off the bench in the 66th minute as Arsenal held Chelsea to a goalless draw, with the pair set to reconvene for the second leg in a fortnight's time on 24th January at The Emirates Stadium.
Sanchez appears destined to leave Arsenal but it remains uncertain whether the club will cash in during the January transfer window or wait until the end of the campaign when they will lose him for nothing.
But despite the doubt Wenger will have no hesitation over playing Sanchez and has dropped a strong hint that he will return from the start when Arsenal travel to the Vitality Stadium on Sunday [14 January] to face Eddie Howe's Bournemouth.
"No, the team selection had nothing to do with the transfer market," he told reporters after the stalemate on Wednesday [10 January], according to Goal.com.
"I have not to justify every decision I make, you know. I made over 1000 games and over 1000 teams and I got it every time wrong, but I have to make a decision."
The Gunners boss added: "I want him to stay for longer because I believe he is a very important player for us and I believe that when he came on tonight you could see that he created danger straight away.
"You have to accept as well when you play so many games, and Sanchez plays every game, that sometimes a breather in the middle of the season helps them a little bit.
"People don't know Alexis well - this is a guy who is completely focused to play football. Have you seen how he came on today, how he warmed up? Like a player who wants to play football.
"He can make a difference between what's going on outside and what's happening. We live with facts, not with psychological theories and the fact is when you turn out on the pitch you play football and you give 100 per cent. That's what he does."
Though Sanchez has displayed no willingness to sign a new contract with Arsenal, Wenger has not given up on him remaining at the club beyond the end of his deal which expires in the summer.
"Look, I have no problem if he signs now or in June," he added. "What is important for me is the next game and that you can rely on him.
"The only thing I want to say is the performance of Alexis and the commitment does not depend on the duration of his contract, it just depends on the fact that when he's on the pitch he wants to play."