This week’s Emirates Stadium encounter looked to be headed towards a goalless draw, but Sanchez popped up in the 89th minute with his 14th goal of the season to take the Gunners to within three points of the third-placed Saints.
And, speaking after the game, a clearly delighted Wenger said: “Alexis is one of the players who had to dig deep, but he still had such desire to fight. He always finds something special to get a goal.
“It’s difficult to find examples of someone who has settled at a club so quickly. He arrived in July and now it’s December. When you look at the number of goals he has and the impact he has on the team, it’s fabulous.”
Wenger also made special mention of Olivier Giroud, who impressed after coming on as a late substitute, with the boss adding: “We deserved that because we gave very few chances away and had more chances than Southampton – and because we kept a clean sheet.
“It was a bit hard to get going at the start because we’d given a lot against Borussia Dortmund and West Brom. This was our third game in eight days. We had to dig deep against a good team that is very well organised. We had to be patient and wait for our chances.
“We have the right attitude and a good solidarity in the team, a good focus, and that’s a good basis for us. It was important to win because we lost our last home game and you could see the crowd was nervous.”