Belfast Telegraph

Arsene Wenger: Alexis Sanchez fires up Arsenal

Arsenal 3 - Stoke City 0

By Jim Van Wijk

Arsene Wenger believes Alexis Sanchez can continue to inspire Arsenal towards a successful end to the season after the Chile forward produced another virtuoso display in the 3-0 victory over Stoke at the Emirates Stadium.

Sanchez scored twice to help sink the Potters, his first a brilliant individual effort on 33 minutes having earlier set up Laurent Koscielny's opener, to continue his superb form following a £30million summer transfer from Barcelona.

Wenger is in no doubt surrounding the importance of Arsenal's star man.

"The better the team plays, the more he is involved in the game," said Wenger, who confirmed full-back Mathieu Debuchy was set for a spell on the sidelines having dislocated his shoulder.

"We had a very offensive team today and Sanchez is confident.

"We can be direct with him, you can run at people a bit more, so there is a good combination offensively.

"You can move the ball well when you have so many technical players on the pitch. It is an advantage for us."

Wenger was happy to see Arsenal produce the required collective display, which was in stark contrast to when they had lost away at Stoke in early December.

"What was important for me is that we kept a good concentration to play the game how we want to play and also that we kept a clean sheet at the back.

Overall, I must say that everybody played very well.

"The only negative today is that we lost another experienced defender with a dislocated shoulder. That gives us a problem because we are already short of experienced players at the back."

Debuchy, who had only just returned from an ankle problem, was carried off during the first half when he fell into the advertising hoardings after colliding with Stoke's Marko Arnautovic.

Wenger said: "He has a dislocated shoulder. It is difficult (to say how long he will be out).

"We don't know yet, but he will not play next week. Kieran Gibbs still has an inflamed ankle.

"Monreal and Debuchy can play centre-back, but if Gibbs is not here Monreal cannot play centre-back and if Debuchy is not here he cannot play centre-back. This is a position where we are short."

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, meanwhile, had been left to watch on from the bench as Colombian David Ospina made his Barclays Premier League debut, the Poland international having found himself the centre of some negative headlines for smoking in the showers after the defeat at Southampton.

Wenger, however, stressed his decision was not based on any disciplinary action.

"It was a decision for today's game." he said.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes accepted his side "were second best to a good Arsenal side".

He added: "We allowed them to get the initial goal and it was a difficult day for us," said Hughes.

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