Football

Wenger wants players to be professional amid Sanchez exit rumours

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has urged his players to maintain a professional mindset as talk of an Alexis Sanchez departure to Manchester City continues to swirl around the Emirates Stadium.

Speaking ahead of the first leg of their League Cup semi-final against Chelsea tomorrow morning (Singapore time), the Frenchman refused to add to the mounting speculation that the Chilean forward will join the Premier League leaders this month.

However, he refused to rule Sanchez out of the clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, saying that he has yet to make a decision.

On whether the uncertainty over Sanchez's future is affecting his team, he was quoted by football.london as saying in yesterday's media conference: "What is the most important is to be professional, to perform no matter what the environment is.

"That's why I believe that it does not have a big influence on your performance nor the performance of the team. It's part of our job to deal with that."

Wenger has come under intense criticism since Sunday's 4-2 defeat by Championship side Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup match - the first time he had crashed out at that stage of the competition since arriving at the north London club in 1996.

His decision to make nine changes to his line-up backfired, meaning he can ill-afford a damaging defeat against Antonio Conte's men tomorrow morning, AFP reported.

He said: "We won the FA Cup three times in the last four years and you can expect that it will not happen every year. I believe that we have not produced a performance you would expect in the third round of the FA Cup.

"I must say, it's the first time it's happened in 21 years. Overall, I believe we have been very consistent even if I am very disappointed by some individual performances."

While he did not name anyone, one player he was certainly disappointed with was Alex Iwobi, who played the full match against Forest on Sunday.

Wenger has confirmed that the 21-year-old forward will be fined by the club for partying into Saturday morning in central London.

It was reported that the party included people inhaling laughing gas and smoking cannabis, although Wenger said that the player did not do drugs or consume any alcohol.

On whether he thinks the partying affected Iwobi's performance, Wenger said: "Who knows that? You must have played football, you know that sometimes you want to prepare 100 per cent but sometimes it is not a guarantee that you will be at your best.

"But that is what is requested from a top-level professional."

Football