Swansea (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsene Wenger lavished praise on Alexis Sanchez after Arsenal brushed aside Swansea 4-0 at the Liberty Stadium, despite the Chilean star’s anger at being substituted.
Sanchez scored the last of Arsenal’s four goals on a day when new manager Paul Clement saw precisely how big the job of keeping Swansea in the top flight is going to be.
The 28-year-old Sanchez was taken off in the final quarter as Wenger sought to give the returning Danny Welbeck some valuable game time.
Even though Sanchez appeared far from happy with the decision, Wenger brushed aside the incident.
“I thought he (Sanchez) was very sharp. I rested him for two weeks and gave him a little breather. I think he benefited from that,” said the Arsenal boss.
“I gave him another rest for today, so he will benefit from that as well. He’s hugely influential.
“When you look at the numbers, he’s been involved in about 25 goals in our team. But we also have players on the bench who are strikers who need competition. We were 4-0 up, he’s just come back from a good rest, Mesut Ozil as well comes back from sickness, so it was a good opportunity not to be stupid.
“All the players are frustrated when they come off, some show it, some not. I just make the decision I feel is right, that’s it.
“There’s no problem. In every culture it’s different. Some South Americans are a bit different to Europeans. Southern Europeans are more different to northern Europeans, you have to respect that.”
Sanchez’s 14th goal of the season added the finishing touches to Arsenal’s convincing win as the Gunners moved to third in the table. They have 44 points but remain eight behind leaders Chelsea.
In-form France striker Olivier Giroud gave the visitors a first half lead before own goals from Jack Cork and Kyle Naughton made the outcome certain, paving the way for Sanchez to add his name to the scoresheet.
Wenger was pleased with the overall performance of his team, albeit after a slow start.
“We had some problems getting going, but I put that down to the fact that Swansea played very well in the the first half,” said Wenger.
“They were well organised and they put in an unbelievable amount of work. Certainly in the second half we took over and in the second half they couldn’t follow the pace any more. We were relentless until the end.”
Swansea manager Clement said he saw enough to give him optimism that the Welsh side can stay up.
The defeat left Swansea at the foot of the table, but only six points separate the bottom six teams.
“In the first half the game was fairly even. Our defensive shape looked good and they weren’t producing clear cut opportunities,” said Clement, the club’s third manager of the season.
“Everyone knows the task at hand is a very hard one but we’re all up for it.
“There are games we will have to win. We have to make sure when those games come around we are in top form and ready to do that.”