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 will return from a hamstring injury before Christmas, Arsene Wenger confirmed on Friday.
Football Insider revealed on Thursday that the Chilean is set to return to training next week as he targets Arsenal’s showdown against Manchester City for his comeback match.
Sanchez has been recuperating in Chile from the hamstring injury that has kept him out of the team’s last two matches.
Sanchez, who has scored nine goals for Arsenal this season, is now hopeful of being in contention for the clash against City at Emirates Stadium on 21 December.
Asked at his media conference on Friday morning for an update on Arsenal’s seven injured first-teamers, Wenger said: “No new injuries. Sanchez is the shortest one, the rest will be back after Christmas.”
The impending return of Sanchez is a huge boost to Arsenal ahead of the demanding festive programme.
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.
With Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta, Francis Coquelin, Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky all out injured, Wenger is open to the idea of dipping into the January transfer market but will not let the club’s injury crisis force his hand.
“We will be out there and seeing what we can do, but we have the whole of December to go and we are in a strong position in the Premier League,” said the manager on Friday. “But we are short and it is important that we don’t lose any more players.”
Wenger’s side have coped well in Sanchez’s 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.
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.