The 27-year-old forward suffered an injury while on international duty with Chile but the Gunners boss opted to start him in Saturday’s draw at Old Trafford regardless.
Arsene Wenger has revealed the reasons behind his decision to start Alexis Sanchez in Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Saturday.
The Chile forward suffered a hamstring injury while on international duty and returned to north London on Thursday, leaving his inclusion in the tie at Old Trafford uncertain.
However Wenger not only included him in his travelling squad but started his star forward and allowed him to play the full 90 minutes.
“It’s very unusual [to play someone after that],” the Frenchman told the club’s official website. “I chose him because Alexis is a guy who can take people on and I knew that would be a quality that would work. He’s always a player who is not scared of anybody.
“He is good on the counterattack, good in short spaces as well.
“He played very well in the first half but we didn’t give him enough service in the second half because we dropped off too much and we played too many balls in our own half. We didn’t give him enough support by coming out more. For a guy who played a decisive game on Wednesday morning, and then travelling after, it’s remarkable.”
Jose Mourinho’s side looked certain to wrap up the victory following Juan Mata’s opener, with Arsenal failing to register a shot on target before the introduction of Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberain.
The pair then linked up in the final minute of the game – Oxlade-Chamberlain providing the cross for Giroud’s headed equaliser – and Wenger believes that his strength in depth will prove the difference to this season’s Premier League title challenge.
“When you’re 1-0 down and you come back to 1-1 with one minute to go, it feels like more than a draw, that’s for sure,” Wenger added. “I hope it strengthens the belief inside the squad that, no matter what happens, we can always come back.
“As long as you’re playing many big games, you can give games to everybody. It’s more than that. It’s just the understanding and camaraderie in the side. It’s the common target you share. Sometimes a player won’t play in October and then afterwards he’ll play every game until January. That’s part of it.”