Arsene Wenger has defended Alexis Sanchez for his late antics in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Leicester, blaming a controversial incident on the referee.
Sanchez was booked in injury time after he blocked Christian Fuchs from taking a throw-in twice and the Leicester player ended up throwing the ball straight at the Arsenal forward. The ball seemed to hit Sanchez on the shoulder, but the Chile international fell to the ground clutching his face.
It was unclear whether Sanchez was booked for the simulation or for blocking the throw-in. Wenger claimed Sanchez simply wasn’t aware that he had to stand at least two metres away from the sideline.
“I think he didn’t know that he had to be further away. As well, I must say the referee didn’t tell him. After the first attempt, the referee didn’t tell him he has to move away,” Wenger told a news conference.
“After that, he got a yellow card because he didn’t respect the rule. I accept that. Because he was not at the right distance. The referee should have told him, or the linesman. On top of that, I think Fuchs was lucky not to get a yellow card because he threw the ball at him on purpose.”
Wenger also insisted he didn’t see where the ball had hit Sanchez, deflecting any suggestions of a controversy over his apparent dive.
“I was looking in the box, as you can understand because I thought the danger is not Alexis, the danger is what happens in the box,” Wenger said. “I saw after that it hit him somewhere. I will check on the video.”
Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare also declined to say whether he thought Sanchez had play-acted.
“That’s down to Arsenal to deal with Sanchez,” Shakespeare said. Sanchez was then tackled hard by Huth near the Arsenal dugout in the final moments, with Wenger stepping forward to help him up.
“Huth really went in on him. I helped him to get up, and he was bleeding from the lips,” Wenger said. “[Huth] touched him maybe in the face. I don’t know if it was accidentally or not.”
Sanchez himself posted a photo of himself with a bleeding lip after the match, saying: “happy for the victory but ended up with a swollen lip.”
Feliz por la victoria pero termine con el labio hinchado 😂😢happy for the victory but ended up with a swollen lip 😂😂👍🏼⚽️ pic.twitter.com/0y301Ztnp9
— Alexis Sánchez (@Alexis_Sanchez) April 26, 2017
Arsenal struggled to break down a stubborn Leicester side and needed a lucky goal in the 86th minute to break the deadlock, as Nacho Monreal’s shot deflected off Huth’s chest and into the net.
The win keeps alive Arsenal’s hopes of climbing back into the top four, although the team’s new back-three formation looked less convincing than in the 2-1 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals on Sunday.