Liverpool (AFP) – Arsene Wenger insisted he had no regrets at leaving Alexis Sanchez out of Arsenal’s starting line-up after his team’s 3-1 defeat at Liverpool.
The Arsenal manager, whose future at the Emirates is a subject of speculation, took the surprising decision to name Sanchez to the bench, bringing on the Chilean international at half-time.
But Wenger explained his decision as a purely tactical one and claimed he did not regret his selection.
“I have no special regrets, the only regret is to have lost the game,” said Wenger.
“Look, the thinking was that we had to go more direct. We wanted to play two players who are strong in the air. After that to bring Alexis Sanchez on in the second half.
“Of course, I believe in the second half it was easier for the strikers and you could see the difference in the performance of (Olivier) Giroud and (Theo) Walcott because we dominated midfield much more.
“Everybody will come to the same conclusion but I’m strong enough and lucid enough to analyse the impact.
“I don’t deny Alexis Sanchez is a great player. I bought him, I always played him and he has developed well. A decision like that is not easy to make but you always have to stand up.”
Arsenal trailed to goals from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane at the interval but Sanchez’s introduction saw a much-improved second half from the Gunners and a goal from Danny Welbeck, assisted by the substitute.
Georginio Wijnaldum secured an important win for the home side with the final goal in injury-time.
Wenger would not discuss Sanchez’s mood after the game although TV pictures appeared to show him looking disgruntled on the Arsenal bench during the first period.
“I don’t think I need to go into every individual situation,” said Wenger.
“What was good in the second half was the collective performance. What was bad in the first half was the collective performance. That for me is a much more rational explanation than all the rest.
“You focus on what you want. I believe for every single player it’s the same. When everybody tells you you need to buy strikers and you buy them and then everybody says, why don’t you keep them on the pitch. But it’s impossible.”
Liverpool’s win was the perfect response to the criticism Jurgen Klopp’s team took following their surprise defeat at Leicester on Monday.