Arsenal hang on for crucial win

Arsenal moved a point behind Manchester United at the top of the Premier League with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Stoke at Emirates Stadium.

Last Updated: 23/02/11 at 23:07 Post Comment

Arsenal: Celebrate Squillaci goal

Arsenal: Celebrate Squillaci goal

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Sebastien Squillaci's eighth-minute header gave Arsenal the victory but injuries to Theo Walcott and Cesc Fabregas will be of concern with the Carling Cup final and a Champions League match against Barcelona coming up.

Fabregas came off with what appeared to be a knee complaint in the first half while Walcott was carried off on a stretcher with an ankle injury after a Dean Whitehead challenge, which went unpunished.

Much of the pre-match talk had been about how the Gunners would cope without another of their key men, Robin van Persie, who was ruled out on Tuesday with a hamstring injury.

Arsene Wenger chose Nicklas Bendtner to lead the attack in his absence while Fabregas, Wojciech Szczesny and Samir Nasri returned after missing Sunday's disappointing draw with Leyton Orient.

Tony Pulis recalled Asmir Begovic and Whitehead while Ryan Shawcross skippered the side almost a year to the day the that his challenge led to Aaron Ramsey's broken leg at the Britannia Stadium.

Clearly determined to put their shock FA Cup draw behind them, Arsenal came flying out of the blocks and rattled the Stoke woodwork with barely a minute gone.

Fabregas slotted in Walcott after some good work by Jack Wilshere, and the England winger beat Begovic at the far post but saw his shot rebound off the woodwork and into the goalkeeper's hands.

Walcott tore into the Stoke box again three minutes later after being played through by Bendtner but Begovic came out to smother the ball.

The early pressure paid off for the home side when they took the lead in the eighth minute. Bendtner volleyed across the box from a Wilshere corner to find Squillaci, who headed home unmarked from five yards for his first league goal of the season.

However, Arsenal suffered a blow 14 minutes in when Fabregas, who looked to be struggling with a knee injury, asked to be withdrawn. He was replaced by Andrey Arshavin.

Fabregas, who missed most of December with a hamstring injury, will be badly missed by the Gunners if does not recover for Sunday's cup final and the Barcelona game in two weeks' time.

Arsenal remained in control for much of the first half but played the game at a much slower pace following their captain's departure.

Arshavin, who scored the winner against Barcelona last week, skipped past his marker before drawing a good save from Begovic at his near post but it was Szczesny making the stop of the game at the other end when he had to scramble down to his right to save John Carew's 25-yard volley.

Nasri curled a free-kick a couple of yards wide of Begovic's goal after Shawcross had brought down Arshavin 20 yards out before the first booking was shown on Jonathan Walters for a pull on Walcott.

The decision angered Pulis and his players, who had just seen Squillaci go unpunished for a similar challenge.

Stoke almost equalised at the start of the second half when Shawcross' header was deflected just wide by Djourou after Jermaine Pennant had crossed from Delap's short throw.

Stoke were looking much more threatening than they had done in the first half and they went close again when Robert Huth headed just over the bar from a Delap long throw this time.

However Arsenal then went on the attack through Arshavin, who dodged a Shawcross sliding tackle to find Walcott in the box, but the 21-year-old was off-balance and mis-kicked his attempt on goal under pressure from Huth.

Walcott was bundled over by Whitehead on the edge of box in the 68th minute but referee Peter Walton waved play on. However, the winger stayed on the ground, clutching his ankle, before being carried off to be replaced by Denilson.

Bendtner headed wide from six yards after a Wilshere corner as Arsenal looked for a killer second goal with 20 minutes left but Pennant almost stole an equaliser in the last minute of normal time with a beautiful curling free-kick that went into Szczesny's side-netting.

Wenger was infuriated to see the fourth official show there would be five minutes of injury-time but his side held the ball for almost the entire added period to ensure the Gunners held out for a crucial win.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

More Match Results

Monday, 15 December 2014
20:00
Everton 3-1 QPR Report
Sunday, 14 December 2014
16:00
Swansea 1-2 Tottenham Report
13:30
Man Utd 3-0 Liverpool  
Saturday, 13 December 2014
17:30
Arsenal 4-1 Newcastle Report
15:00
Burnley 1-0 So'ton Report
Chelsea 2-0 Hull City Report
C Palace 1-1 Stoke Report
Leicester 0-1 Man City  
S'land 1-1 West Ham  
W Brom 1-0 A Villa Report

Footer 365

Premier League: Joe Hart agrees long-term contract with Manchester City

Joe Hart has signed a new long-term contract which keeps him at Manchester City until the end of the 2018-19 season.

Premier League: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert says Manchester United can still win title

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert believes Saturday's opponents Manchester United can still win the Barclays Premier League.

Premier League: Manuel Pellegrini confident James Milner will sign new deal at Manchester City

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is confident James Milner will soon sign a new contract with the club.

Mail Box

More Players In The Wrong Bloody Shirt

Plus Cristiano Ronaldo, who looks 'heart-breakingly well-suited to a Real Madrid shirt' according to one United fan. Plus, words from the good doctor and plenty more...

Players Plainly Wearing The Wrong Strip...

There are some players who just look plain daft in whatever shirt they're wearing. Like Cesc and Robin. It's a cracking mailbox with a load of different themes...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property