With Arsenal’s most creative player nursing a swollen knee and possibly out for today’s FA Cup match against Middlesbrough, Arsene Wenger has delivered some grim news that may spook Arsenal fans for the rest of the season.
Withdrawn after 68 minutes against Leicester City midweek, there’s a chance Sanchez has been overused this season, something which could seriously hinder him down the stretch.
“He had not the same intensity in his game as he had until now,” said Wenger ahead of the FA Cup match Sunday. “I’m not sure he was free in his head to sprint as he used to. I don’t know if it was down to the kick he got on his knee, but he was not himself [against Leicester].”
With Arsenal gunning for a top four spot to ensure a Champions League position next season, they currently sit a point outside that goal, and a less than healthy Chilean would be a massive blow to their chances of securing yet another season in Europe’s top competition. Thankfully, the actual injury he suffered won’t keep him out long.
“He has a swollen knee and he cannot move well, but it’s only a kick, nothing else,” Wenger said. “If he’s not available for [the Middlesbrough match], he will be available next week.”
It’s not hard to see why Sanchez could be suffering from overuse this season. He’s logged 1,826 Premier League minutes out of a possible 2,250. Up until the start of February, he’d missed just one league match for the Gunners. Last year with Barcelona, he only missed four matches, making 34 league appearances, but was paced by manager Gerardo Martino and finished with 2,374 minutes from a possible 3,420. Also throw in 582 Champions League minutes and 194 cup minutes this year, and Sanchez is one of the most used attacking players in the league.
Clearly his injury hampered him last week, and that’s probably the bulk of the cause for his drop in that game, but even still, Sanchez has slowed from his early-season form. The 26-year-old exploded onto the Premier League scene with eight goals in his first 10 Premier League matches, playing the full 90 all but three times.. Since, he has just four scores in 12 games, while completing the full 90 minutes nearly the same amount of times.