Arsene Wenger says Alexis Sanchez benching not due to transfer rumours

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Wilshere limped off during Arsenal's 0-0 draw at Chelsea on Wednesday night with a sprained ankle and Wenger said afterwards that he expected him to miss this Sunday's trip to the Vitality Stadium.

But instead of taking his seat in the stands, Wenger - flanked by Jens Lehmann - sat amongst the journalists in the press section at Stamford Bridge as he watched his side earn a 0-0 draw.

Mesut Ozil missed the Carabao Cup clash with Chelsea in midweek after aggravating a knee problem and the playmaker is rated as 50-50 to return this weekend as he's facing a late fitness test.

"You have to accept as well when you play so many games, and Sanchez plays every game, that sometimes a breather in the middle of the season helps them a little bit".

"It sends the wrong message to the rest of the squad, to the players who are sat there on the bench who are sat there thinking, 'I should be playing in this team, why is he getting a chance?'". The Danish defender also headed over the bar when unmarked later in the game, while Alvaro Morata fired an effort into the side netting after a mistake from Shkodran Mustafi. "It was by blocking the shot that turned his ankle", Wenger said.

Arsenal fans were heard mocking their rivals' lack of enthusiasm with as a chorus of 'Is this the Emirates?' rang out around the ground. "We are not on that case at the moment".

Lampard Barkley
GETTY Frank Lampard and Ross Barkley played together for England

Sanchez then played the last 25 minutes, and Wenger insisted that his team selection "had nothing to do with the transfer market".

Ben Brereton, one of the seven players aged 23 or under in Nottingham, stepped up to take the penalty and scored to make it 3-1.

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The idea, says the Standard, "is to reduce the dependency on the manager, thereby providing an additional degree of stability".

"I don't know how long he will be out".

With midfielder Francis Coquelin having joined Valencia on Thursday and forwards Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott expected to leave, the manager acknowledged reinforcements could be required in the coming weeks.