Arsene Wenger backs Alexis Sanchez after late clash over Leicester throw-in

James Benge
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Arsene Wenger criticised Leicester for their rough treatment of Alexis Sanchez, but admitted the forward was no saint in the closing moments of Arsenal's tempestuous 1-0 win.

The Chilean forward was booked in the thrilling closing minutes of a match brought to life when Robert Huth deflected a Nacho Monreal volley past Kasper Schmeichel for the game’s only goal.

As Arsenal looked to defy their opponents Leicester were handed a throw on the right channel, which Christian Fuchs was preparing to hurl into the area. Sanchez stood a few feet away from his opponent – breaking laws of the game which require a two metre gap – and refused to back down.

Fuchs, already on a yellow, would ultimately throw the ball at Sanchez, but it was only the Arsenal player who received a booking.

The striker went down holding his face, though replays suggested both that the ball had hit his shoulder and that his reaction had been seriously delayed, as players from both sides dashed forward.

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Wenger conceded that referee Mike Jones had been correct to show a yellow to Sanchez but questioned why no-one had instructed his player to move back from the throw-in.

“I didn’t see where he has been hit but I saw that in the first two attempts when Fuchs tried to throw the ball in Sanchez stood next to him,” Wenger told Standard Sport.

“I think he didn’t know that he had to be further away. As well I must say the referee didn’t tell him that he had to move away. He thought he was in the right position.

“After that he got a yellow card because he didn’t respect the rule. I accept that. He was not at the right distance.

“The referee or the linesman should have told him. On top of that Fuchs was lucky not to get a yellow card because he threw the ball at him on purpose.”

Wenger admitted that he could not be sure whether the booking had been given for obstruction or simulation: “I assume that it was [for his distance from the ball].I don’t know that the referee saw better than I saw where the ball hit Alexis.

“I was looking in the box, which you would understand. I thought the danger was not Alexis but the danger is what happens in the box.

“I saw after that it hit him somewhere. I will check on the video.”

A case for Sanchez’s defence might note that he was on the receiving end of several hearty challenges from a Leicester side who set their stall out to frustrate Arsenal at every turn.

Most notably Arsenal’s chief attacking threat was on the receiving end of a hefty slide tackle from Huth in the second half which Wenger revealed had caused Sanchez some harm.

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“Huth went really in with him,” Wenger said. “I helped him to get up and he was bleeding on his lips. He touched him maybe in the face. Accidentally or not, I don’t know.”

Sanchez was not the only player to come away with his share of bumps and scrapes after an encounter with Leicester’s mountainous back four.

Whilst Foxes’ boss Craig Shakespeare insisted Jones had made the correct decision in booking Yohan Benalouane for a high boot into Olivier Giroud’s back Wenger suggested the 30-year-old had been toeing the line of a more serious sanction.

“That was a dark orange,” Wenger said of Benalouane’s foul. “Close to a red.”

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