Arsenal Legend Robert Pires Sheds Light On Alexis Sanchez Training Ground Incident
Arsenal legend Robert Pires has revealed more details about the training ground incident that reportedly led to Arsene Wenger dropping his main man for the defeat to Liverpool at the weekend.
A number of outlets, such as The Telegraph, ran stories on the Chilean having a bust-up in training - with Wenger denying news of a rift in his pre-Bayern press conference and calling the rumours "false".
Wenger told the press on Saturday evening that Sanchez's absence from the starting XI was a 'tactical decision' but several newspapers made it seem as though he was in fact punishing the former Barcelona and Udinese man, whose attitude has been called into question on numerous occasions, this season.
The 28-year-old apparently left the session early, prompting several Gunners' players to confront him in the dressing room, at which point a huge argument erupted, causing Wenger to step into diffuse the situation.
The Frenchman deemed that Sanchez was in the wrong for his unprofessional attitude to training and decided a fitting punishment would be to drop his star man to the bench. The decision is believed to have been supported by many of the Arsenal players.
However, Pires, who was in attendance for the session and regularly trains with the first-team at the London Colney facility, has said there were no fisticuffs but did detail the incident that led to Sanchez walking out of training.
Speaking to BeIN Sports, he said:
"I want to be clear regarding the English media.
"There was no fight or brawl as was written. I was there. I was at the training session and in the dressing room afterwards. Yes, there was an argument on the pitch, a bad tackle on Alexis Sanchez. He decided to leave the pitch, something that he shouldn't have done."
Pires, who spent six years at Arsenal and won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups, also revealed that Arsenal players, including Laurent Koscielny, intervened but it was only a verbal exchange.
"After that, certain players, among them Laurent Koscielny because he's the captain, went to talk. But it was a verbal exchange, there were only words. They didn't come to blows, because they are adults. They're professionals and in the same boat.
"Unfortunately, Arsene Wenger took a decision to punish Sanchez for his behaviour by leaving him on the bench against Liverpool. Unfortunately, it didn't go well. The fans need to understand that if there was that, it's because something happened. Not something serious, but it was a punishment, quite simply."
Sanchez returned to the Arsenal side last night as the Gunners were again trounced 5-1 by Bayern Munich. The Gunners were the better side for the first half and went ahead through Theo Walcott but had Laurent Koscielny controversially sent off and ended up being on the end of another hiding from the Bavarians - with goals coming through Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben, Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal, who bagged two.
Sanchez was substituted in the second half and with his team 5-1 down, the cameras panned to the former Barcelona man and showed him having a bit of a chuckle on the bench.
That promoted plenty of reaction from fans on social media:
What do you make of Alexis Sanchez's situation at Arsenal? Will he move on in the summer?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.