By Editor Wayne Veysey | Former Evening Standard, Press Association and Goal chief correspondent with 17 years experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this

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Alexis Sanchez is set to return to training next week as he targets Arsenal’s showdown against Manchester City for his comeback match, Football Insider sources understands.

The Gunners’ forward has been recuperating in Chile from the hamstring injury that has kept him out of the team’s last two matches.

But an Arsenal source has told Football Insider that Sanchez is recovering well and is hopeful of being in contention for the clash against City at Emirates Stadium on 21 December.

The 26-year-old is in line to return to training next week as he recovers well from the injury he sustained in the Gunners’ 1-1 draw at Norwich on 29 November.

The initial fears were that he could be sidelined for four to six weeks, but as revealed by Football Insider on 2 December, the injury is not a really serious one.

The impending return of Sanchez is a huge boost to Arsenal ahead of the demanding festive programme.

Arsene Wenger’s side have coped well in his absence, beating Sunderland 3-1 last Saturday and securing a memorable 3-0 Champions League win at Olympiakos on Wednesday night to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition for a 16th consecutive season.

The fixture list means that Arsenal have an eight-day gap between their next match, Sunday’s Premier League visit to Aston Villa, and the City game.

Red alert: Alexis Sanchez's hamstring injury might not be as bad as initially feared

It had always been Wenger’s plan to give Sanchez a mid-season break even before he broke down with the injury to his right hamstring.

Of Arsenal’s 21 Premier League and Champions League matches this season, Sanchez has started 18 and been a second-half substitute in the other one, on the back of an exhausting programme over the last 18 months.