Wenger drops Sanchez, pays price in latest Arsenal setback
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Arsene Wenger chose one of the toughest periods of his Arsenal tenure to make one of his most reckless team selections.
Dropping Alexis Sanchez, possibly the best player in the English Premier League, for an away game against Liverpool, a direct rival for a Champions League qualification place, may come to be a defining moment of a season that is starting to unravel for Arsenal.
Wenger realized his error at halftime, throwing Sanchez on for the second half, but Liverpool was 2-0 ahead by then after goals by Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, and on its way to a 3-1 victory that lifted Juergen Klopp’s team above Arsenal and into third place.
“A decision like that is not easy to make,” Wenger said, “but you have to stand up for it.”
That Arsenal improved drastically with Sanchez on the field — he set up Danny Welbeck for Arsenal’s goal that made it 2-1 — will be all the more galling to Arsenal’s increasingly disgruntled fan base. It also provided more ammunition for the “Wenger Out” brigade, which is becoming all the more vocal as the long-serving manager weighs up whether to sign a new deal at the club.
Wenger said Sanchez was left out because he wanted Arsenal to have a more physical and direct attacking style and it remains to be seen if there is anything more to the selection. Sanchez clearly wasn’t happy, giving Arsenal’s traveling supporters the briefest of waves at the final whistle before quickly disappearing down the tunnel and leaving the rest of his teammates on the field.
Sanchez, the league’s joint-top scorer with 17, has demonstrated this season that he hates being substituted and not completing games. So imagine…