Wenger backs Sanchez

LONDON. — Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes that Alexis Sanchez is ready to play a full part in the season’s run-in after inspiring his side to FA Cup victory over Burnley.

The Chile forward made his first start after two months out with a hamstring problem in the holders’ 2-1 fourth-round victory at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. Sanchez set up Calum Chambers’s 19th-minute opener before scoring the winner and Wenger is hoping his enforced lay-off will benefit the club as they chase glory in the FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League.

“He had a long rest now. It is true that when he got injured, you could see signs of fatigue. Two months’ rest is a good winter break!” said Wenger.

“Overall I wasn’t too worried about him on the fitness front as I kept him out. Two weeks ago he was there physically, but we had some worries about his muscles.

“He came through this and you could see physically he is ready.”

Sanchez was joined in the Arsenal line-up by Francis Coquelin, who was also back following a two-month absence after picking up a knee problem against West Bromwich Albion.

Wenger admitted that he was unsure whether the defensive midfielder would be available, having decided against selecting him against Chelsea six day previously.

But he was satisfied with Coquelin’s return and said: “I didn’t expect him to be available. I thought it was a bit early for the Chelsea game, but in this game he looked comfortable without any problems.”

Wenger also handed a debut to Mohamed Elneny, the Egypt midfielder signed from Basel for a reported fee of £5 million last month.

The manager was satisfied with his new signing’s display, although he admitted it would take time for the 23-year-old to settle fully into his new surroundings. — AFP.

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