Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger confirmed the future of contract rebel Alexis Sanchez is likely to be resolved within the next 48 hours after his side’s slump in form continued at resurgent Bournemouth.
Sanchez, who has six months remaining on his Gunners contract, did not travel to the south coast with his team-mates as a tug-of-war continues to rage between Manchester City and Manchester United for his signature.
Wenger denied that Sanchez had refused to play in the clash, and insisted that a replacement would be sought before the close of the transfer window should the 29-year-old leave for pastures new.
“Alexis would have played, but it’s a difficult period for him,” said the Frenchman. “He has always been committed until now, but he could have moved yesterday, today or not at all.
“It will be decided in the next 48 hours. It was a bit different for him because he was on standby a little bit. That’s why I decided not to do it. He did not refuse to play.
“Will he go or not? I don’t know, but at the moment it’s the transfer period and in this kind of period you try to use the players that are completely focused at being at the club.”
Without Sanchez, Arsenal had appeared on course for victory following Hector Bellerin’s second-half opener, only for quick-fire strikes from Callum Wilson and Jordon Ibe to turn the tide in Bournemouth’s favour.
The defeat left Arsenal with just one win in seven matches across all competitions and eight points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, while Bournemouth, unbeaten in four league games, moved to 13th, four points clear of the relegation zone.
Arsenal opened the scoring on 52 minutes when Bellerin latched onto Alex Iwobi’s pass and fired beyond Asmir Begovic, with the ball bobbling over the line after the former Chelsea goalkeeper’s half-save.
But Wilson levelled as he prodded home Ryan Fraser’s right-wing cross, before turning provider for Ibe to slam his first Premier League goal through Petr Cech moments later.