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Arsenal to begin FA Cup defense without Sánchez

Sanchez was last involved in a 1-1 draw against Norwich in November. Photo courtesy: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Sánchez was last involved in a 1-1 draw against Norwich in November. Photo courtesy: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Sánchez was last involved in a 1-1 draw against Norwich in November. Photo courtesy: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsène Wenger has said he will not risk Alexis Sánchez in Arsenal’s FA Cup third-round game against Sunderland on Saturday.

Wenger is not ready to rush Sánchez back into his side with crucial league fixtures to come at Liverpool and Stoke next week.

“The bad news of the week is that Alexis is not quite ready,” said Wenger. “It is a precaution because of his hamstring, and it takes a few more days. He’s not bad but he’s not ready.

“The thinking is to give absolutely everything to qualify. We are the holders of the Cup and I know as well by experience that it is very important that you get in the competition and that you have a successful third round. It’s a tricky one, always, the third round.”

The 27-year-old playmaker, so influential last season, missed the whole of December after pulling his hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw at Norwich in November.

Many thought Sánchez would return for the game against Manchester City (which Arsenal won), but couldn’t get fit in time.

Meanwhile, even without Sánchez in the team, Arsenal have opened up a two-point gap at the top of the Premier League. The club and its manager will hope the team can defend their FA Cup in similar fashion.

Some good news for Arsenal

Sánchez aside, there is some good news for Wenger. Captain Mikel Arteta has recovered from a calf injury and Wenger updated the media on the situations of midfielders Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin.

“Tomas Rosicky is not far, he’s back in full training next week, so should be available soon. Mikel is available,” he added.

“Nothing has changed [from the original timescale] with Santi. It could be a bit shorter with him because he’s often quicker [at recovering] than you expect him to be. Cazorla and Coquelin are doing well.”

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