With the season in tatters and no relief in sight, focus has fallen on what surely is, finally, the downward spiral of Arsenal. The benching of their POTY-so-far Alexis Sanchez has been much ballyhooed about, with the explanation falling on what was clearly a training ground bust up and overreaction by the manager. Today, media finally got the admission from Arsene Wenger to validate those stories:
I am not aware. Nothing happened. Nothing at all.
I explained after the game at Liverpool that I decided to go for a more direct option in the game. That’s what happened. That was the unique reason for my decision. All the rest, his attitude - he’s a committed player and sometimes has excessive behaviours but you have that many times in the history of every squad.
OK, but surely the media wouldn’t have made up something about the very heart-on-his-shoulder, passionate striker who doesn’t want to play for Arsenal anymore. These stories couldn’t be false, could they?
Yes, completely false. But I understand that you have to fill the newspapers and we respect that. When you don’t win games it’s not always down to real stories and we have to accept that.
Oh. So, things aren’t so bad between you and Alexis? He doesn’t want away because you’ll keep playing him?
[Things are] Honest and normal. Like with every single player.
Alexis has 15 months of his contract so the decision of will he be here or not will depend completely on Arsenal Football Club and not on anybody else.
It’s about the team performance, not individuals. It’s a team sport and the most important thing is that we focus on our collective. Our game is built on collective expression. That is the most important thing, that we focus on what’s important and not the individual. Alexisplayed in all the games and when we didn’t perform away from home, we lost as well. We lost at City, United and Chelsea, and that’s what I think is the most important thing, to focus and produce as a team.
So, that’s that. A big dose of cold water on Arsenal’s hot burning controversy. This was further denounced by Alexis taking to his instagram to proclaim his passion is out of love, not hate.
If honest, though, this is the predictable reaction for Wenger to have. Wenger was never going to give more fodder to the rabid news media. To display any true rift between players at this point would immediately inflame further speculation, which clearly does not need his help, and jeopardize any opportunity to find form as a team again to make the push for the Champions League spot and the FA Cup which are both still very much at play.
However, with probable elimination from the Champions League coming up tomorrow, don’t expect the heat to be dampened