Sanchez firing again after 'winter break': Wenger

LONDON: Alexis Sanchez returned to Arsenal's starting lineup and the scoresheet in Saturday's 2-1 FA Cup fourth round defeat of Burnley with manager Arsene Wenger saying his injury-enforced "winter break" could be a blessing in disguise.

The Chile forward had not started a game since late November because of a hamstring injury but pounced in the 53rd minute to keep the Gunners on course for a third consecutive FA Cup triumph.

While Arsenal laboured to see off their second-tier opponents, the sight of Sanchez fit and fresh was a huge boost for Wenger as his side attempt to win the English title and prepare to face Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.

"With Alexis, I was not too much worried about (him) on the fitness front because I kept him out two weeks ago and he was already there physically," Wenger said of Sanchez, who came on as a substitute in last week's 1-0 defeat by Chelsea in the Premier League.

"We had some worries about his muscle but today he came through well and you could see that physically, he is ready. He had a long rest now," added the Frenchman.

"When he got injured, you could see signs of fatigue. I think two months' rest is a good winter break."

Sanchez finished off a lightning Arsenal break after Burnley's Sam Vokes had equalised for the visitors, but the tie was more complicated than it had looked when Calum Chambers opened the scoring for the Gunners.

"At the start it looked like it would be easy because we had a lot of the ball and good opportunities around the box," Wenger said. "When it came back to 1-1, it became a different game. I think we were a bit shocked and they gained belief."

Third-placed Arsenal host Southampton in the league on Tuesday, looking to avenge a 4-0 thrashing by the south coast club on Boxing Day.