Alexis Sánchez, Arsenal, Clubs, English Premier League, Story

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Arsene Wenger expects the injured Alexis Sanchez to miss Arsenal’s opening two Premier League fixtures.

Arsene Wenger has cautioned fans not to expect too much from Alexis Sanchez if the Chile forward returns in time for Arsenal’s game at Liverpool this weekend.

Sanchez has missed Arsenal’s first two games of the season with an abdominal strain, but Wenger is hoping he will be available at Anfield after returning to full training last week.

However, the Arsenal manager — who saw his team lose 1-0 to Stoke on Saturday — said it might take time before the forward is back to his best.

“We’ll see how he goes through the week,” Wenger said. “He was out with a muscular strain and hopefully he will survive the tests first before he comes back. He’s not played now for six weeks and it’s difficult to be at your best in the first game straight away.”

Sanchez’s future has been the subject of speculation all summer, with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain both reportedly interested, but Wenger has steadfastly refused to sell. His return to the team would be a massive boost, with Arsenal’s attack lacking sharpness at Stoke in his absence.

Alexis Sanchez was Arsenal’s top goalscorer last season.

Wenger was criticised after that game for fielding a back three that included two left-backs in Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac, with Per Mertesacker on the bench and Rob Holding left out of the squad all together.

Wenger said postmatch that he was “not convinced by our central defence today” but later insisted they were not to blame for the loss.

“We conceded three last week so I changed a bit because [Shkodran] Mustafi came back and Holding had lost a little bit of confidence,” he said. “In preseason, centrally, we did quite well. When you lose a game, you lose a game, but we didn’t lose against Stoke only because of bad defending on the ball. When you have the number of chances we had away from home and you don’t score, you can always complain about the offence and defence.

“We’ve lost one game so I can understand [negativity], but overall I believe that there were a lot of positives in the game. We created many chances, we had great domination, but unfortunately we dropped three points.”

Mattias is ESPN FC’s Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.

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