Arsenal back in title hunt but Villa victory comes at a cost

Fabregas comes off bench to score twice but could face three weeks out with injury

The Arsenal captain, Cesc Fabregas, came off the substitutes' bench yesterday to score two goals that dragged his club back into the title race with a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa, but it came at a cost. Fabregas aggravated his hamstring injury and could yet be ruled out for another three weeks.

Arsenal's win meant that, in the crucial Premier League game between third and fourth-placed teams, Arsène Wenger's club moved to within four points of the leaders Chelsea with one game in hand. Manchester United also closed the gap with Chelsea to two points after Wayne Rooney inspired them to a 3-1 victory over Hull.

Rooney was badly at fault in the build-up to the award of a Hull penalty that made the score 1-1 after an hour and the striker said that it was his fear of Sir Alex Ferguson's reaction that spurred him on to create United's two decisive goals.

Fabregas's spectacular 27-minute cameo against Villa put Arsenal right back in the title race. He scored twice in 16 minutes, before Abou Diaby added a third in stoppage time, but did not finish the game.

Wenger said he did not know whether Fabregas had torn the hamstring again. "We do not know yet if it is a recurrence of the pull or just scar tissue," Wenger said. "If it is scar tissue then it is a few days, but if it is a reoccurrence, then it is three weeks out."

Wenger denied suggestions he had gambled by calling on Fabregas, who had suffered the initial injury just 11 days earlier in the 1-1 draw with Burnley. Fabregas aggravated it as he sprinted to score his second goal.

Wenger said: "I feel I did the right thing, and would do it again. I put him on the bench and I knew before the game that, if it was needed, I would put him on. You do what you think will win the game. Aston Villa are a team which makes you nervy because you can be dominant and lose the game."

Rooney scored the first for United. After Craig Fagan's penalty he had a major role in Andy Dawson's own goal for United's second and Dimitar Berbatov's third. Rooney said: "I made a mistake [a backpass that put United in trouble] and, thankfully, we still won the game or the manager would not have been pleased. It was the first time it has happened to me and it wasn't a nice feeling.

"I didn't want to let the lads down [but] I was more worried what the manager would say. We knew this was a big game for us."

The Villa manager, Martin O'Neill, refused to be downcast. "You can draw all sorts of conclusions from just one game and we have to look at the bigger picture," he said. "We are up there in the league because we deserve to be."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn