Arsenal: Alexis Sanchez As Substitute Shows Arsene Wenger Desperation

Arsene Wenger made the radical decision to drop Alexis Sanchez for Arsenal’s trip to Liverpool on Saturday, revealing his desperation as the criticism rises.

Arsenal travelled to Anfield on Saturday with their top four place in the balance. Sitting in fourth, just one position ahead of Liverpool, Arsene Wenger’s side entered the game with poor form amid heavy criticism after lethargic displays against Chelsea and Bayern Munich in the past month.

Many fans, myself included, were asking for Wenger to make some changes ahead of the Anfield tie, but the change that he did make was not what I had in mind. In a rather odd decision, Wenger decided to drop Alexis Sanchez, in favour of pairing Danny Welbeck alongside Olivier Giroud.

After an insipid first half display with Sanchez sat on the sidelines, major questions came for Wenger, questions that he answered in his post-match press conference. Of the decision, Wenger stated that he felt a more direct approach was needed to overcome Liverpool’s high-pressing tactics, and that the lack of height of Sanchez limited such a tactic:

“The thinking was that we had to go more direct and I wanted to play two players who are strong in the air, because we decided to go more direct. After that, to bring on Alexis in the second half. Everybody will come to the same conclusion, but I’m strong enough and lucid enough to analyse the impact. And I don’t deny that Alexis is a great player. I bought him and I always played him. This decision was not easy to make, but I have to stand up for it.”

Wenger showed a ruthless streak to his management that he rarely shows in dealing with his players. He is notoriously loyal to his players, standing by them through trials and tribulations, losses of form and crippling injuries. And yet, Arsenal’s best player, their primary goalscorer and chief creator was dropped for one of the most difficult and most important games of the season.

For a man heralded for his intelligence, it was a rather stupid decision, one that suggested that, rather than have an ingenious plan to exploit the many weaknesses that Liverpool have shown so far in 2017, Wenger was merely desperate for a little instigation.

As time progresses, it is becoming increasingly likely that Wenger will not remain as Arsenal manager beyond the end of the season. The criticism is only worsening and his decisions are becoming more desperate. Dropping Alexis Sanchez is just the latest in a string of maddening management mistakes.