With a hectic Christmas fixture list looming, Arsenal manager faces a dilemma over prize asset Alexis Sanchez.
The Chilean forward, a marquee summer signing from Barcelona, has been a shining light during Arsenal’s disappointing start to the season, scoring 14 goals in 22 appearances for the north London club.
Loathed to rest the 25-year-old as Arsenal continue to play catch-up in the Premier League, Wenger is also wary of burning out a player who has almost single-handedly kept his side in touching distance of the top four.
Arsenal face Stoke City on Saturday, a physically testing away fixture they have struggled in over the years, and assuming he is selected Sanchez will be playing his 28th game of the season for club and country.
“He is in the red zone, you can see that when he plays, but he can dig deep,” Wenger told reporters on Friday.
“I think he played his 27th game on Wednesday since the start of the season, if you consider the international games and the travelling on top of that.
“Unfortunately you never know how far you can push a player. We are not scientific enough to predict that completely, but he has a great recovery potential. He recovers very quickly, is always sharp and wants to play.”
Sanchez has already made himself a firm favourite with the Arsenal faithful and his late winner against Southampton on Wednesday underlined his importance to the club.
While full of praise for Sanchez, Wenger does not accept that Arsenal are a one-man show.
“On the goalscoring record, you can say (Alexis) is dominant, but in the game of course not. But in goalscoring, he is the dominant figure,” he said.
“He has a huge desire, no complex, and has a fighting attitude that means even when he misses something it doesn’t affect him. He’s very mobile, very determined and he has the sense to be in the right place in the box.”
Sanchez’s work ethic has impressed his team mates too.
“In training he doesn’t even want to do recovery days,” Theo Walcott said in the Daily Telegraph.
“That’s how much he loves football. All the guys have told him he needs to chill out because, at Christmas when all the fixtures come along, it’s going to catch up with you.
“He doesn’t care, he just wants to play and win. He’s a good leader, and something that we haven’t had in the Arsenal team before. He’s a dream to play with.”
Arsenal missing Walcott too
They be without Theo Walcott for Saturday’s Premier League trip to Stoke City as the England forward is still recovering from a thigh injury.
Walcott, who returned to make two brief substitute appearances in November after nearly a year out with a serious knee injury, hurt his thigh while on international duty.
“He has an injection today so he will not play. Galatasaray (in the Champions League) is also too early,” Wenger told a news conference on Friday.