Why Wenger Needs To Protect Alexis Sanchez From Fatigue Injury

Alexis Sanchez put in yet another virtuoso performance against Burnley on Saturday when he capped his high energy display with a brace, after he had done the same against Sunderland one week earlier. The Chilean international has showed tirelessness in the matches he has played since his arrival from Barcelona in the summer. He is always at full throttle, running at opposition defenders, hassling the opposition into making mistakes, and his standard of performance has not dropped in any of the matches he has played, he burns the same amount of energy in virtually the entire 90 minutes. His love for the game of football means that he does not always want to slow down in his consistent high tempo display. It was something that elicited Theo Walcott to state thus after the match against the Clarets at the weekend;

“In training he doesn’t even want to do recovery days,” That’s how much he loves football.

“All the guys have told him he needs to chill out because, at Christmas when all the fixtures come along, it’s going to catch up with you.

“He doesn’t care, he just wants to play and win. . .”

Incidentally, Theo Walcott is not the first player to have pointed out that the he has tried to tell Sanchez the importance of taking things easy, Oxlade-Chamberlain pointed out before the North London derby in September, that Alexis Sanchez was so worked up for the derby that he didn’t want to do recovery sessions even after playing against Southampton in the Capital One Cup few days earlier.

This is where Arsene Wenger comes into the picture. The players have rightly pointed out that the Chilean does not like recovery periods, but the manager has a responsibility to protect him not just from the burn out that Theo Walcott mentioned in his interview, but from the inevitable fatigue fracture. The Chilean has played virtually every minute of Arsenal’s league match this season except the match against Aston Villa, and the match at Goodison Park when he played one half, the match against Chelsea and the North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur when he was a substitute.

With the games coming thick and fast in the coming weeks, as the season enters it crucial stages, squad rotation becomes important. However, with the Chilean the only one delivering at the moment in attack especially with his performance in the last three Premier League matches, it is unlikely that Arsene Wenger would consider giving him a breather.

The tweak of formation which has seen Alexis Sanchez deployed in a more central role behind Danny Welbeck was designed to bring out the best from the Chilean, and so far he is repealing the rewards of Arsene Wenger’s tactical switch.

With the injuries, and  history of players who have faded during the festive period, when they first arrived England, it becomes important for Arsene Wenger to protect Alexis Sanchez from such either by way of early substitution when a match is already won or by drumming into the Chilean’s consciousness the importance of those recovery sessions he seems to detest.

He would not be the first South American star to grace the Premier League who does not like being rested. Luis Suarez famously said after he led Uruguay to the Copa America title in 2011 that he does not need rest just weeks after he returned back at Liverpool without pre-season. Kenny Daglish had adopted a proactive approach to allow him time to recover from his exertions at the Copa America, but he was having none of it, and he just wanted to play.

So it is with Alexis Sanchez whose unalloyed love for football makes him want to be out there all the time whether it’s training or a match situation, but this is England where there is no winter break, and Arsene Wenger and his team needs to drum that into him; that rest is important.