Arsene Wenger has praised the staying power of Alexis Sanchez and likened the Arsenal forward to a hungry lion.
The Chile international has been a key man in Wenger’s squad since he was signed from Barcelona in 2014 and has nine goals to his name already this season.
Sanchez has been a major player for club and country of late and, having starred in his national side’s Copa America success over the summer, has now been playing regularly for a number of months.
Wenger was asked why he did not take Sanchez off in Tuesday night’s 3-0 victory over Dinamo Zagreb in which he scored two goals to keep the Gunners’ Champions League hopes alive.
Having somewhat cryptically replied that Sanchez gets tired if rested, Wenger admitted ahead of Sunday’s trip to Norwich that the 26-year-old is constantly surprising him with his eagerness to commit to the cause.
“When he does something he does it 100 per cent,” said Wenger.
“So he finishes and you think, ‘He’s dead now.’ But then he recovers and gives 100 per cent again, so you always see signs of exhaustion, but it’s not because two days later he’s fine.”
Wenger went on to compare his £30million man to a hunting lion, likening his work-rate to that of Leicester’s in-form Jamie Vardy.
“His style is very explosive and a very committed style,” he said.
“Vardy is a bit similar. They go when they go. They are like the lion, he has to catch the animal in the first 200 metres. If he doesn’t get there, after he’s dead. They are these kind of killers. When they go, it is to kill and after they have to stop.”
Sanchez is likely to stay in the side for the game at Carrow Road, despite giving Wenger a scare with a hamstring issue after the Dinamo game.
“I will have to assess that a bit later,” he said when asked about resting the player against Norwich.
“It might not be the best moment to rest Alexis, but I don’t know. He had a little hamstring alarm, but we will see how he recovers from that.
“I take information, especially from medical people who know him and treat him everyday, and after that we will look at his overall recovery as well.”
For a man clocking up so many minutes for club and country, on top of the air miles racked up to compete in Chile’s World Cup qualifiers, Sanchez is rarely injured – something Wenger puts down to the player’s own mind.
He added: “No, he’s not been injured. We come back to that problem and the more you are injured, the more there is a chance to be injured again.
“That’s where we come back to top-level sportsmen. That kind of mixture of flexibility, sense of how far can you go with the pushing, that sensitivity to how much and as well when you have to ease off on your bodyweight. That’s linked with co-ordination and they get less injured.
“His resistance is remarkable. What is also remarkable is that he goes to South America, he comes back Thursday night and on Saturday he can play without a problem, even if he’s jet-lagged. He would have been a perfect tennis player.
“These are not players who have the traditional academic education that we give now to the players at 15 or 16. They have a physio every day. They are more street players, not pampered.”