Arsene Wenger has ruled Chile forward Alexis Sanchez out of Arsenal’s FA Cup third round clash with Sunderland on Saturday.
Sanchez missed the entire Christmas and New Year programme after suffering a hamstring injury in Arsenal’s draw at Norwich in November.
The 27-year-old was expected to make his comeback for the win over title rivals Manchester City before Christmas but suffered a setback in his recovery.
In his absence, Arsenal have opened up a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League and open the defence of their FA Cup trophy against strugglers Sunderland.
Gunners boss Wenger is not ready to rush Sanchez back into the team with crucial league fixtures to come and a Champions League tie against Sanchez’s former club Barcelona on the horizon.
“The bad news of the week is that Alexis is not quite ready,” Wenger told Arsenal’s website on Thursday.
“It is a precaution because of his hamstring, and it takes a few more days. He’s not bad but he’s not ready.”