Will match-winner Alexis Sanchez be at Arsenal next season? Arsene Wenger has no idea either
Accused of not pulling his weight in the final year of his contract, the unsettled striker bags a brace in 3-2 win at Crystal Palace
Arsene Wenger admits he is no nearer to establishing where Arsenal’s Chilean star Alexis Sanchez’s future lies.
Wenger praised the 29-year-old’s two-goal display that helped secure a 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace on an evening where the French manager equalled Manchester United legend Alex Ferguson’s Premier League record of 810 matches in charge.
Sanchez’s commitment has been questioned this season following his failure to reach agreement with the north London club about an extension to his contract that expires at the end of this season.
Wenger believes the Sanchez’s performance at Selhurst Park showed there has been no let up in effort, but with the January transfer window about to open, has no idea about the player’s next move.
Sanchez scored his first goal in the 62nd minute but not all his teammates celebrated the strike with him.
“First of all, nobody knows what will happen really,” said Wenger.
“It’s difficult to speculate. At the moment we are focused on short-term, that means the next game [against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday] with the players committed and ready to fight.
“It’s not a guarantee of how long you stay somewhere. As long as you are somewhere, you give your best.
“I felt he was very good tonight from the first minute on, focused on the game. This kind of Sanchez is a great football player, as we know. That’s the kind of performance we want from him.”
Sanchez’s brace – the second a beauty from Jack Wilshere’s superb pass – added to Shkodran Mustafi’s first ever away goal for the Gunners.
James Tomkins’s 89th minute header – Andros Townsend had drawn them level at 1-1 early in the second half before Sanchez’s scoring burst – ensured a nervy finish.
Wilshere, starting his fourth successive match his longest run in several years, is also in the final year of his contract and Wenger believes he too showed he remains committed to the cause.
“They are questioned, always, when people don’t have long contracts,” said Wenger. “The best way to show they are committed is to give that kind of performance.
“Jack is coming back in competitive shape. He gives something to the team at the moment, and gave a good final ball for the third goal.”
Wenger said Arsenal and Wilshere were due to open talks in January.
“The situation is that we need to sit down with him. Beginning of January, it’s planned. There is no delay.
“Now we play today, we play on Sunday, we play on Wednesday. At the moment the focus has to be on the games.”
Palace manager Roy Hodgson was frustrated at his side’s defeat, their first in nine games, but relieved Wilfried Zaha was not punished more harshly after being shown a yellow card following an angry exchange with referee Michael Oliver at half-time.
“I think he felt hard done by in the first half. He was bundled over once or twice,” said Hodgson.
“It’s difficult for a manager really to make sensible judgments on whether the referee got it right or whether he had a case.
“You’re talking about one of the best referees in the country, someone I very much respect.
“I wasn’t creating as much fuss as Wilf was, but I wasn’t the one being bundled over.
“He did well to calm down at half-time to make sure any injustice he might have felt was channelled into his performance.”