ARSENE WENGER dropped Alexis Sanchez but insists the contract rebel is ‘committed’ to Arsenal.
Manchester City hope to clinch a deal this month for Sanchez who will be a free agent in the summer.
The Chilean, 29, was used only as a sub in this Carabao Cup semi-final draw, increasing speculation he is on his way.
But boss Wenger declared: “The team selection had nothing to do with the transfer market. People don’t know Alexis. This is a guy who is completely focused to play football and gives 100 per cent.
“I’ve picked over 1,000 teams and sometimes get it wrong but I do not have to justify every decision I make.
“Does he sign (for Arsenal) now or does he sign in June? What is important is the next game and that you can rely on him.
“His commitment does not depend on the duration of his contract.
“I want him to stay for longer because he’s a very important player for us.”
Arsenal hold a narrow advantage for the second leg at home in two weeks’ time after holding out at Stamford Bridge.
But Gunners legend Ian Wright blasted Wenger for starting Alex Iwobi, 21.
The bad boy is being fined two weeks’ wages by the club for partying late into the night last weekend, just 36 hours before an embarrassing 4-2 FA Cup defeat at Championship Nottingham Forest.
Wright said: “That sends out the wrong message. People are laughing at Arsenal. I feel Arsene is losing control.
“What’s that saying to Theo Walcott?
“A youngster has gone out partying before a game, still plays in that game, then plays this game and you can’t get in front of him? You’ve got to start thinking about your own future.”
Last night’s game was another major trial for the new Video Assistant Referee system designed to iron out controversies.
Ref Martin Atkinson stopped the game for almost two minutes to consult with his colleagues before deciding against giving
Chelsea a penalty when Danny Welbeck challenged Cesc Fabregas — but won the ball.
Wenger said: “It looks a bit strange to go on for two minutes.
“Everybody forgot what happened.
“If you cannot intervene straightaway it’s a bit frustrating.”
Chelsea chief Antonio Conte rapped his team for wasting chances.
He said: “My speech is not just for the strikers. I think we have to improve with all the players. When you have the chance you have to score.
“When you play a semi-final you have to exploit.”
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