Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed Alexis Sanchez will not be risked in their FA Cup third round clash with Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
The Gunners forward injured his hamstring in a 1-1 draw against Norwich last November and hasn’t featured since.
The Chilean international was set to make a return in a 2-1 win over title rivals Manchester City before Christmas but suffered a setback in his comeback.
In the absence of the 27-year-old, Arsenal have climbed to the top of the Premier League and claimed a two-point lead over their title rivals.
The Gunners begin the defence of their FA Cup crown this weekend against Sunderland, but with a crucial Champions League showdown with holders Barcelona soon approaching, Wenger is not willing to risk his star man.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Wenger said: “The bad news of the week is that Alexis is not quite ready.”
“It is a precaution because of his hamstring, and it takes a few more days. He’s not bad but he’s not ready. The thinking is to give absolutely everything to qualify.
“We are the holders of the cup and I know as well by experience that it is very important that you get in the competition and that you have a successful third round. It’s a tricky one, always, the third round.”
Wenger also confirmed that midfielder Mikel Arteta is available for selection and also offered an update on Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin, who are all sidelined with injuries.
“Tomas Rosicky is not far, he’s back in full training next week, so should be available soon. Mikel is available,” he added.
“Nothing has changed (from the original timescale) with Santi. It could be a bit shorter with him because he’s often quicker (at recovering) than you expect him to be. Cazorla and Coquelin are doing well.”