ARSENE Wenger feels Alexis Sanchez has both the work-rate and the enthusiastic personality to help fire Arsenal to a successful campaign – just like former club favourite Ian Wright.
Sanchez has been forced to sit out the last two matches because of a hamstring strain and Wenger admitted the industry of the Chile forward was clearly missed as his side went down 2-1 in Saturday’s north London derby at Tottenham.
The 26-year-old, who has plundered 18 goals since a £32million summer move from Barcelona, is expected to be back in the side for Tuesday night’s visit of Barclays Premier League strugglers Leicester.
Gunners boss Wenger revealed Sanchez has been just as big an influence in the dressing room as on the pitch.
“He is more with the Spanish players of course, but he is loved by everybody. He is very friendly and bubbly every day,” said Wenger.
“He is a bit like Ian Wright, with his enthusiasm.
“Alexis is quieter than Ian Wright – but that is not difficult and he doesn’t get booked!”
Wenger continued: “He is dynamic and he does both parts of the game, he wins you the ball back quickly as well, so the transitions are very good from defence to attack and attack to defence.
“He is important in the team because of that.”
Wenger revealed Sanchez was desperate to play through the pain barrier, but insisted there must always be a long-term view weighed up against any potential short-term gain.
“For us it is important that he has no setback as once you go into February, if you have a muscular injury and a guy has a set back, you say ‘bye bye’ as the season is over as it is six weeks out,” said Wenger.
“By the time you come back to your full level it is April and that is why we didn’t take the gamble.”
Wenger is confident Arsenal can quickly get the poor display at Tottenham out of their system, having gone into the match on the back of five straight victories.
Indeed the Gunners could once again leapfrog local rivals Spurs – who travel to Liverpool – and end up in third come full-time on Tuesday night.
“We scored an early goal (at Tottenham) and subconsciously we accepted we had to defend – that is not our game,” he said.
“We all want to try to have the ball.”
Wenger, meanwhile, has also called for clarity on UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations.
“We are a popular sport, so you want clear and simple rules for everybody to understand,” said the 65-year-old, who has an economics degree from Strasbourg University.
“Is it just your income created by the gates? Is it the gates and commercial?
“Is it only the gates and the television? Is it naming rights as well?
“If I ask 10 people in the street today (what it means) and then if you ask me, and I am in the job, I don’t have a clear idea any more of what it means.”