Cape Town - Arsenal
manager Arsene Wenger has explained how Alexis Sanchez’s status as the
symbol of his national team makes him acutely sensitive to their
Chile recently missed out on next year’s World Cup after a 3-0 loss
to Brazil on a dramatic final day in South American qualifying, and
Wenger believes his No.7 will feel the full force of that
"I would say you have in, every generation, a player who carries the pressure of expectation of a nation," Wenger said.
"In France it was Zidane. In England it was Beckham. We had other
players in the team but it was Beckham. Why not [Steven] Gerrard? I
don't know. But it was Beckham.
"In Chile it's Sanchez. In Argentina, of course, it's Messi. It looks
like that there is somebody there in a national team who has to carry
the pressure and absorb it and protect a little the rest of the team.
"It's someone normally who likes it a little bit. They like to be on
the front line. Overall what does it mean? It means they have to deal
with the lows as well."
With the international break now over, the Gunners are preparing for
Saturday’s Premier League clash away to Watford, but Wenger is worried
that his No.7 might be "in a very difficult mind".
"Chile just won the Copa America twice (2015 and 2016) and now they don't even go to the World Cup," he said.
"Sanchez is 29 at the end of the year, so the next one he will be 33.
He expected to go. Certainly [it's] a big disappointment for him.
"But I believe to play at the top level as well, it is part of dealing with that kind of disappointment."
Kick off is at 18:30.