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Injuries take gloss off Arsenal win

Sebastien Squillaci headed the winner at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal
beat Stoke to move within a point of Manchester United at the top of
the Premier League here Wednesday.
Arsenal’s striker Theo Walcott is stretchered off after being tackled
by Stoke City’s midfielder Dean Whitehead during their English Premier
League football match at the Emirates Stadium in London. Arsenal won
1-0.
But the victory came at a cost as both Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott were forced off with injuries.
Fabregas went off after 14 minutes with what appeared to be a minor muscle strain, but Walcott’s injury looked far more serious.
After a thumping challenge from Dean Whitehead he lay prone for three minutes before being taken off in agony on a stretcher.
Arsenal
are already missing Robin van Persie in attack and Laurent Koscielny in
defence as they head into a crucial period of games including the
League Cup final and the Champions League last-16 tie against Barcelona.
Stoke kept Ricardo Fuller and Kenwyne Jones on the bench, as John Carew was picked as a lone striker.
Arsenal
headed into this game, the first of five for the north London side in
the next 14 days, off the back of a nine-match unbeaten run in the
Premier League.
Their home league form in particular is formidable — they are unbeaten since losing to Tottenham Hostpur back in November.
And
they were close to going a goal ahead after less than two minutes, as
Jack Wilshere darted through the visiting defence to set up Walcott,
who hit the bar.
Six minutes later, they were ahead as Nicklas
Bendtner turned the ball back towards goal off an overhit corner for
centre-back Squillaci to head in.
But then 15 minutes in Arsene
Wenger was forced to take off Fabregas with what looked like a
hamstring strain — which is not what the manager would have wanted
with four more games in the next two weeks.
Fabregas’s loss took
the wind out of Arsenal’s sails and it took a full 13 minutes for them
to register another shot on target as Andrey Arshavin — who had come
on for the captain — drew Asmir Begovic into an easy save.
Stoke
began to get a foothold and Carew drew Wojciech Szczesny into a diving
save with a 30-yard effort after Jonathan Walters had done well to beat
Bacary Sagna then cut back from the byline.
The visitors served
notice after the break that they were far from out of the game, as
Carew gave Wenger more ammunition to question their footballing
pedigree, after the Arsenal manager had accused them of playing rugby
earlier in the season.
Carew shoulder-barged Gael Clichy out of
the way, before Jermaine Pennant got a cross in from the right and Ryan
Shawcross was left alone to head goalward, but Johan Djourou was able
to block the ball.
Then Dean Whitehead, Marc Wilson and Rory
Delap were guilty of rash challenges in a five-minute period, yet all
escaped punishment.
Robert Huth headed just over the bar for
Stoke off a long Delap throw on the hour, before Walcott let a chance
go begging by shooting wide on 64 minutes with Begovic well out of
position.
That was his last contribution of the night as he was
taken off on a stretcher on 71 minutes, adding to Arsenal’s injury
worries in a crucial stage of the season.
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Categories: Soccer, Sport News
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