Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez may be suffering from ankle ligament damage as he prepares to represent Chile in a World Cup qualifier against Argentina in Buenos Aires. Sanchez played 78 minutes of the Gunners' 3-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion prior to the international break after suffering an injury boss Arsene Wenger described as leaving the player in a "terrible state".
The 28-year-old has trained this week however, and is set to feature for the Copa America champions in the first of two qualifiers ahead of Russia 2018, with the second coming against Venezuela next week. Boss Juan Antonio Pizzi has refused to confirm whether the ex-Barcelona man will start the game but the importance of the clash against one of their closest rivals for an automatic qualification berth means he is unlikely to miss out.
Speaking to beIN Sports, Wenger has confirmed Arsenal were unable to determine the severity of the injury suffered by Sanchez before he left to join up with Chile ahead of the double-header. The French boss is concerned his star player may have severe damage to his ankle and is hopeful he will return to the Emirates Stadium in one piece.
"I don't know because he left for Chile and in South America they have a decisive period now for the qualifiers for the World Cup and they have very important games," he said. "The last news I have is that it was only the kick. We didn't know after the kick if his ankle ligament was damaged or not because it was swollen and it was difficult to assess after the game but the last news we have is positive."
The primary concern for Wenger may not be the damage Sanchez has already sustained but any further harm he may be caused when facing two more games in the space of five days. Arsenal resume their domestic campaign on 2 April when Manchester City travel to north London – a critical game in the club's attempts to finish in the Champions League places.
A second league defeat in a row – Arsenal's fourth in the last six games in all competitions – leaves them six points off the top four with 12 games to go. They do have two games in hand over fourth-place Liverpool but will be tasked with keeping pace with those sides above them when they take on Pep Guardiola's side.