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
  • Get to the point
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

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence