Arsene Wenger Alexis Sanchez Arsenal
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is wary of playing Alexis Sanchez in the Premier League game against Manchester UnitedReuters

Arsene Wenger knows, no matter how fit or unfit Alexis Sanchez might be after playing for Chile despite picking up a hamstring injury in training, the Arsenal striker will only say one thing when the manager asks him about his availability for the Premier League match against Manchester United: "I am ready to play," or something along those lines.

What Wenger needs to decide is if Sanchez is saying that in the knowledge that he really is fine or owing to his child-like enthusiasm to play every single minute of every match possible.

It is not an easy decision, because you never really can say if a player really is fully fit or not and also due to the fact that Wenger will be tempted to use Sanchez considering the important nature of the contest on Saturday.

"He texted us to tell us he's in good shape after the game," Wenger told reporters on Thursday. "He came off after 84 minutes and now we have to wait. I see him (on Friday) morning and then I will see if he can be involved in the squad or not.

"What I will consider is the risk of injury because he played while recovering from a hamstring injury. I'll consider the way he feels as well. On that front you depend on the honesty of the player, how they feel and how they recover.

"In the Premier League, the first decisive games are also coming up so you have to pay a price. We lost important players in November for long periods last year."

One of those players lost this year is Hector Bellerin, with the Arsenal right-back ruled out for at least four weeks with an ankle injury, picked up when Danny Rose went in for a tackle right at the end of the North London derby against Tottenham two weeks ago.

While Wenger did not go as far as saying Rose went in for the tackle with the intention of injuring the player, the Arsenal manager was miffed at the manner of the challenge, largely due to the fact that Arsenal are thin in that position. Carl Jenkinson has only just returned from a long-term injury, while Mathieu Debuchy is still struggling for fitness. The other option – Ainsley Maitland-Niles – will be a risk considering the inexperience of the youngster.

"Bellerin got injured in the last 10 seconds against Spurs after a very strong tackle by Danny Rose," Wenger, who will also be without Santi Cazorla for an indefinite period, said. "It was a bad one.

"Did Rose want to injure Bellerin? I don't think so. He just went in for the tackle. But it's annoying to lose Bellerin, that's for sure."