Thursday 21 September 2017 12:58, UK
Arsene Wenger says Alexis Sanchez's low-key start to the season is down to fitness and not the collapse of a move to Manchester City.
Sanchez is yet to complete 90 minutes in the Premier League but played the full match against Cologne in the Europa League and again saw the final whistle as Arsenal beat League One Doncaster in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night.
The Chile forward was considered fit enough to start at Liverpool before the international break, but Alex Iwobi was preferred for Sunday's high-pressure game at Chelsea.
Wenger conducted his weekly press conference the morning after the Doncaster game and was asked whether his treatment of last season's top scorer was down to a change in attitude - on the part of player or manager - in the wake of the summer's events and Sanchez's refusal to sign a new contract.
"Not at all," he said. "That's going into very quick conclusions. Alexis Sanchez has been out injured and I thought he was still a bit short on Sunday physically. I played him last night to give him competition.
"I just try to get him back to full fitness, and for me the Europa League and League cup are important as well.
"I gave him a long holiday, this year he had a real rest. He came back not really fit and then he got injured. The injury plus rest time was a bit long, but last night you could see he's coming back sharp now."
Wenger insisted there is "no disguised attitude on my side" but made it clear Sanchez will have to accept his position as one of a pool of forwards who will share time on the pitch this season.
Asked outright if Sanchez remains central to his plans, the Arsenal boss said: "All the players are. He's not more than any other.
"I picked a team at Chelsea to be strong on the counter-attack and fight very hard. Sanchez could have played if he was 100 per cent fit, but for me there's no real hierarchy.
"I have six or seven strikers, but if I go with three strikers [at the weekend], the three who have not played will play in midweek, whatever the competition."
Jack Wilshere, like Sanchez in the final year of his contract, also completed the Doncaster game and Wenger repeated his challenge for the England midfielder to stay fit for the season.
Wilshere remains "an Arsenal man", according to his manager, who said: "We haven't spoken about [a new deal] - we have to see how that evolves and what kind of influence he can have on the squad in the whole season."
Wenger confirmed Calum Chambers (hip) and Danny Welbeck (groin) are out until after the international break, but Mesut Ozil will train with the squad over the weekend ahead of the Monday Night Football game against West Brom.