Arsene Wenger is seriously considering whether or not to drop Alexis Sanchez ahead of Wednesday's game against Swansea City as Arsenal look to cling on to their Premier League title challenge, according to the Mirror.
The Frenchman saw that title challenge take a significant turn for the worse on Sunday as Manchester United ran out 3-2 winners in a thrilling game at Old Trafford. That left them five points adrift of leaders Leicester City and, more significantly, three away from Tottenham Hotspur.
They travel to White Hart Lane next Saturday in what looks to be the biggest north London derby in living memory, but Arsenal must first consolidate their position with a considerably easier tie against Swansea at the Emirates.
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A serious congestion of fixtures has certainly got Wenger thinking about squad rotation but Sanchez's poor form suggests the Chilean is more in need of a rest than most.
The star of last season has scored just once since returning from a hamstring injury at the start of January – against Championship side Burnley in the FA Cup – and hasn't scored in the Premier League since October.
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Serious need of rest
Wenger is of the belief that Sanchez is in serious need of a rest but the player himself has showed a reluctance to be taken out of the team. He believes he can play himself back into form, but Arsenal are in need of results and Sanchez is not delivering.
There have been discussions between Wenger and senior Arsenal coaches over Sanchez and it is looking increasingly like he will start Wednesday's game on the bench or perhaps not at all. Whether he will be reintroduced into the side for the north London derby will depend entirely on how his replacement – likely to be Joel Campbell – performs against the Swans.
It is significant that Sanchez's ill-form has coincided with his team's downfall. So often the catalyst last year, the former Barcelona star has failed to shine on the big stage since his two goals against Manchester United in early October. Having originally been seen as a catalyst for a new era of success, Sanchez is now a liability.
But, according to former star Ray Parlour, it is the Arsenal team as a whole that is to blame for the faltering title challenge. He believes they lack the “desire and grit” to bring home their first Premier League since 2004.
Parlour said, according to the Mirror: “I didn’t see anyone on that pitch demanding more from the players. The big players didn’t turn up and at the back, they were all over the place.
“The most important thing is the leaders. When the going gets tough you need people like that; when I played we had Tony Adams and guys like that demand more from you when you’re up against it.
“Swansea on Wednesday is now a massive game for them and then they play the north London derby, and at the moment, Spurs are looking a much more complete team than Arsenal. It’s undoubtedly a big blow to Arsenal because with the players United had out it was a real opportunity for them to set their stall out.
“They’re going for the title and I didn’t see the desire and the grit in their performance. I didn’t see the togetherness that you’ve got to have at this stage of the season. They’ve got some massive away games coming up and this was a chance to make a massive statement at Manchester United.
“Now they’ve got to beat Swansea and Spurs and they are really up against it. If they play like they did against Manchester United there is no way they’ll win the league.”