By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Alexis Sanchez’s fitness has hit the ‘red zone’, the point of fatigue where sportsmen are at a major risk of injury.
The Arsenal forward’s condition is a growing concern for Arsene Wenger as the manager plans to reignite his team’s season following their midweek exit from the Champions League.
Sanchez will not be taken out of the firing line for the Gunners’ trip to Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon but there are fears from club staff that his heavy workload in his debut Premier League campaign could increase the risk of him getting injured in the final stage of the season.
The Chilean has been wearing a GPS vest in training this week to provide feedback to fitness and coaching staff, who can then assess whether to tailor his training schedule accordingly. The vest collects a multitude of statistics on speed, distance, heart rate, dynamic stress load, accelerations and decelerations.
Sanchez has made 41 appearances for Arsenal this season, 39 of which he has started, and his 35 starts in Premier League and Champions League fixtures is bettered in the squad only by Per Mertesacker (36).
Arsenal have nine league matches remaining in addition to two possible FA Cup ties if they can overcome Championship side Reading in their semi-final on Saturday, 18 April.
Speaking on Friday, Wenger has conceded that Sanchez is suffering from fatigue and that it is affecting his performances, which have yielded just a single goal in his last 11 matches.
Wenger said: “Yes, he’s a bit [fatigued]. Also, because he is in a position where he has scored less, he wants to force his game and then he is more included in physical battles.
“Maybe his goalscoring is on his mind so he wants to do too much and he wants to force his game. I’m tempted at some stage [to give him a break]. It’s not that he won’t let me, I will decide that. It’s just that every game now is so important, you always have a hesitation to do it.”