Arsene Wenger has confirmed Alexis Sanchez will not be risked in Arsenal’s FA Cup third round clash with Sunderland on Saturday.
The 27-year-old missed the entire festive fixture list having suffered a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw at Norwich in November.
Sanchez 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.
Wenger is not ready to rush Sanchez back into his side with crucial league fixtures to come and a Champions League tie against the Chile international's former club Barcelona on the horizon.
"The bad news of the week is that Alexis is not quite ready," the Gunners boss told arsenal.com.
"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."
There is better news on Mikel Arteta's recovery from a calf injury while Wenger also offered an update on Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin – all of whom are sidelined with knee issues.
"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."
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Ighalo has been a star for Watford this season
Watford’s in-form striker Odion Ighalo has appeared to issue a come and get me plea to Manchester United.
Ighalo has been one of the stars of the Premier League season after blasting 14 goals for the Hornets and while he insists he is not looking for a move, an offer from Man Utd would be a dream for him.
"I don’t think I will be moving but I’m not sure I’d say no if United called," he is quotes in the Sun.
“They were my team growing up. I loved watching Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke on TV.
“They were my idols and playing at Old Trafford has always been a dream.
“There has been speculation from Spain and Italy but I’ve played there and now want to play in England."
United's lack of attacking firepower in the first half of this season has sparked suggestions that manager Louis van Gaal is looking to bolster his forward line in the January transfer window.
Having reportedly failed in a bid to sign Southampton's Sadio Mane in recent days and with several of United's high profile targets out of reach this month, a move for Ighalo may be welcomed by some of the club's fans.
The Nigerian striker had scored in six successive Premier League matches until that run ended against Manchester City last weekend, with his proven record in the English league making him a quick-fix option for Van Gaal and United to consider.
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Gerrard was back in action for a Liverpool side
Steven Gerrard was back in Liverpool red as he joined a team of former Anfield greats for an exhibition game in Sydney on Thursday.
Sunday World columnist John Aldridge was among the scorers as a star-studded Liverpool side beat a team of Australian greats, with the visiting team running out 4-0 winners.
Gerrard Houllier back in charge of the Liverpool team as Jamie Carragher, Robbie Fowler, Jason McAteer, Phil Babb and Ian Rush took part in a game that brought the memories rushing back for all fans of the Anfield giants.
The biggest ovation of the night was saved for Gerrard, who led Liverpool into action once again:
Steven Gerrard leads out the #LFCLegends ahead of their game against the Australian Legends… https://t.co/GHjVYlEkAf
— LFC TV (@LFCTV) January 7, 2016
Our man Aldo made a late appearance as a substitute and, typically, got himself on the scoresheet with this tap in (Red Futbol):
This is how the Liverpool legends lined-up:
Westerveld (Grobbelaar 61); McAteer (Aurelio 41, Riise 71), Carragher, Henchoz (Biscan 46), Riise (Babb 46, McAteer 71); Garcia (Aldridge 79), Hamann (Henchoz 87), Gerrard, Berger, Smicer (McAllister 35, Rush 67), Fowler (McAllister 88)
Check out out Aldo's postcard from Australia in this weekend's Sunday World.