Arsene Wenger will encourage Alexis Sanchez to control his emotions when Arsenal entertain Barcelona tonight in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
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The Chilean attacker may feel that he has a point to prove after being let go by Barca, despite 35 goals in 78 appearances before his move to the Gunners in 2014.
Wenger has claimed that, in the “right zone” and with the support of his teammates, Sanchez has the potential to be a match-winner against the European champions.
But he has also admitted that that any revenge mission on Sanchez’s mind could be to the detriment of Arsenal, and that he will have a calming chat with the 27-year-old.
“He will be fired up, but that doesn’t mean he will be in the right zone,” Wenger told Sky Sports. “The performance zone is where you are focused and relaxed and that is what is difficult in sport.
“Sometimes when you are too focused you are not relaxed, so it’s a zone where everything looks easy and sometimes when you play against your former club you are not necessarily in that zone.”
Asked if he would speak to Sanchez to ensure that his enthusiasm was well directed, Wenger added: “A little word, yes. He can help us to win the game. But I know that not one player will win us the game.
“We need a top level team performance where everybody is spot on in the discipline and sharp physically and ready to work for the team. If everyone does that then maybe Alexis can make the difference but it’s not especially on him. We need all our players.”
Unsurprisingly, Arsenal are overwhelming underdogs to progress to the quarter-finals, and even to get a positive result in this evening’s first leg at the Emirates Stadium.
Leading bookmaker SkyBet price them at 18/5 to win in London, compared to Barcelona’s 3/4. Sanchez will have to put in the performance of his live to dismiss those odds.
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