Arsenal’s top scorer Alexis Sanchez faces a fitness test to determine his availability for Tuesday’s Premier League clash against relegated Sunderland while midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been ruled out, manager Arsene Wenger said.
Sanchez was withdrawn with a thigh injury during Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Stoke City on Saturday that kept Wenger’s team in the hunt for a top-four berth. Defender Laurent Koscielny is also doubtful due to a calf problem.
“We have a little bit of a problem with Koscielny but we should have everyone available,” Wenger told a news conference on Monday.
“Alexis should have a test today. It didn’t look good but with him he is always so eager. (Kieran) Gibbs should be available but Oxlade-Chamberlain is out.”
Arsenal are currently fifth in the table, three points behind fourth-placed Manchester City and four adrift of third-placed Liverpool, who have played a game more.
Arsenal need one of their rivals to slip up to have a shot at Champions League qualification, but Wenger is pleased by the desire his team have showed in recent weeks, with the win at Stoke marking their third consecutive league victory.
“I am very positive because it looks like we get stronger in every game,” he added. “We won six of the last seven games. We look strong again away from home.
“We have created momentum again. We had a difficult period and recovered from it. I think the only chance we have now to be in the top four is to win all of our games.”
Despite the improvement, Arsenal look set to spend next season without Champions League football in what could be the first time in more than 20 years that Wenger’s team will not feature in Europe’s elite club competition.
Wenger said a lack of Champions League involvement would not have any impact on the quality of players that Arsenal would be able to sign in the close season.
“I believe finishing outside the top four will not have any influence on how the club will be led and how we will operate on the transfer market,” he added.
The manager, whose future has been the subject of speculation in the media and who is out of contract at the end of the season, did not clarify whether he would sign a new deal with Arsenal.