Arsenal will be facing a hostile environment at Britannia Stadium but that does not mean that they need to gamble with Alexis Sanchez’s health.
Arsenal may have had a very exhausting game midweek, and that fuels the flames of the ‘start Alexis Sanchez‘ talk, but hold the phone. Arsenal has been weathering this storm of fixtures for quite some time and they have been coming out just fine. Not perfect, by any means, but they still sit on top of the table and as long as that is the case, there is no reason to risk their star man.
Alexis Sanchez has been out since November. His absence has allowed Joel Campbell to come into his own and show us what we have been missing all these years. Theo Walcott has been covering on the left and while he hasn’t been horrible, he definitely likes to remind us of why we all like Alexis so much.
Arsene Wenger even saying that he could ‘gamble’ on Alexis’s health is a major red flag. First of all, when is the last time Wenger gambled? He doesn’t. Second of all, it’s not like Alexis Sanchez’s hamstrings are a toy. You don’t just ‘see what happens’. His hamstrings cost you £35m. His hamstrings ensured a mildly successful 2014/15 season. If there is any question at all, even if it is 90/10, 95/5 or whatever other lopsided ratio you want to throw out there, you sit him.
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If Arsenal was crashing and burning in the middle of the table, then absolutely, get him in there. Start him yesterday. But there is no urgency here. It sounds like, worst case, he is back next week. One week is not enough time for Arsenal to lose all of their momentum and begin a spiral.
That being said, rotation is needed. That Liverpool game left me out of breath from my couch. I can’t imagine how the players felt. However, given the lack of options and the importance of every point, a full-on rotation is not possible. Instead, Wenger need look no further than the newest man to wear an Arsenal kit.
Mohamed Elneny arrived at the absolute perfect time to make an immediate impact. Flamini has been doing a perfectly fine job in the middle, but it’s not like Arsenal is dependent on what he provides, especially with Elneny waiting to win Arsenal the treble.
While I do not think Elneny will start, he should. Put him in the game and let him learn all about hostile environments in England. He’s too composed of a player to curl up in the fetal position and throw in the towel. He won’t completely blow his lines. All he has to do is provide defensive support, something he has always been able to do. Anything else is a bonus.
Alexis could very well be available as a sub, but he should not be used for anything more.