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Furious Sanchez showed the passion Arsenal needs, says Wenger

By Jim van Wijk

Arsene Wenger has played down Alexis Sanchez's furious reaction to Arsenal's draw at Bournemouth by insisting the Chilean's passion is something he wants to see. The Gunners rescued a point despite falling three goals behind at the Vitality Stadium on Tuesday, with Sanchez starting a memorable comeback by netting a diving header before Lucas Perez and Olivier Giroud secured a 3-3 draw.

The result still saw Arsenal lose ground on some of their Premier League title rivals and Wenger's men sit fifth in the table.

Sanchez cut a frustrated figure for much of the game, arguing with Aaron Ramsey during a miserable first half, angrily throwing his gloves away at full-time and storming down the tunnel.

Several reports yesterday suggested the 28-year-old is moving closer to an exit as a result of his angst in the dressing room after the game. Sanchez has yet to sign a new contract amid suggestions he wants parity with the best-paid players in the division.

But Wenger was pleased to see the passionate side of the former Barcelona man. Asked about Sanchez's negative body language, the Frenchman said: "Well, what is surprising? You want to win the games and when you don't win, you are unhappy - it is normal.

"Without passion, you do not come back after 70 minutes from three goals down.

"First of all it is exceptional, it doesn't often happen and you need a special response, which is what happened. We wanted to win and we didn't win so we are all frustrated. Of course (he is fine)."

There was more bad news for Wenger following the draw with the Cherries as Perez was left nursing an ankle injury which is likely to keep him out of tomorrow's FA Cup match at Preston.

But the more serious injury was to Francis Coquelin, with the midfielder forced off in the first half with a hamstring problem which Wenger feels could see him without his compatriot for the best part of a month.

Wenger also offered a gloomy update on the condition of Santi Cazorla, who underwent surgery on a troublesome Achilles problem at the start of December.

"At the moment, he is far from returning," said Wenger. "It's not going as quickly as I imagined, so in January he will not come back. It could be a bit longer."

It was not all bleak news on the injury front however, with Wenger suggesting Danny Welbeck could play some part at Preston.

The England forward has been missing since May with a second serious knee injury.

"I haven't decided yet," Wenger said when asked about Welbeck's involvement. "His fitness is at a good level. He wants to play."

Belfast Telegraph


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