Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has revealed Alexis Sanchez was not chosen to start in his side's stalemate with Chelsea last week as he is continuing to manage the star forward's game time following his return from injury.
The Chilean has featured just four times for Arsenal so far this term and played the full 90 minutes in the Gunners 1-0 victory over Doncaster Rovers in the League Cup on Wednesday, just six days after also completing the full game against Cologne in the Europa League.
However, the 28-year-old's omission from the starting lineup against Chelsea came as a surprise to some, and asked on Thursday if there was any agenda to his team selection Wenger said, via Arsenal's website: “There is no disguised attitude on my side. I just try to get him back to full fitness and for me the Europa League and the League Cup is important as well.
"So I just try to give him competition and to get him back to his best, because I gave him a long holiday and after that long holiday this year he had a real rest. He came back not really fit, it took us time to get him back and then he got injured.
Arsenal fans hate of Alexis Sanchez is so odd to me. Might not have been at his best but once again made the difference. Great assist.— Connor Humm (@TikiTakaConnor) September 20, 2017
“If you add the injury plus the rest time it was a bit long, but on Wednesday night you could see that he is coming back sharp now and I left him on the pitch as well for 90 minutes because I wanted him to have a real go.
“All the players are [in my plans], he’s not more than another. I said I chose the team at Chelsea who can be strong on the counter-attack and fight very hard and Alexis could have played if he was 100 per cent fit at the start, but for me there’s no real hierarchy.
“I have six or seven strikers, but if I go in one game with three strikers, the three who have not played will play in midweek in no matter what competition it is. That is nothing calculated.
With speculation over Sanchez's future dominating most of the headlines during the summer, Wenger now believes his star forward is starting to settle down following the conclusion of the transfer window.
He added: "I think that [saying he is distracted] is coming into very quick conclusions.
“He has been out and injured, I thought he was still a bit short physically on Sunday, and I played him against Doncaster to give him more competition. The impression I have [is that he’s happy].”