Premier League Roundup, Dec. 27

Cesc Fabregas scored twice before being forced off with a

recurrence of a hamstring injury Sunday as Arsenal beat Aston Villa

3-0 to keep the pressure on Manchester United, which stayed second

in the Premier League with a 3-1 win at Hull.

Wayne Rooney put United ahead but Craig Fagan leveled from

the penalty spot for Hull, and it took Andy Dawson’s own-goal to

put the defending champions back in control. Dimitar Berbatov

wrapped up United’s win.

Chelsea, which hosts Fulham on Monday, is two points ahead of

United but a resurgent Arsenal is just two points further behind.

“We are in a strong position,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

said. “We can have belief, but it is a long way to go and we have

to keep our feet on the ground and continue to improve together.”

Wenger, though, could be without his captain for the next

three weeks. Fabregas came on as a substitute but lasted just 27

minutes on his return following two weeks out with a hamstring


Having replaced Denilson in the 57th, the Spain midfielder

broke the deadlock in the 65th by curling a free kick beyond

goalkeeper Brad Friedel’s reach and swept in his ninth league goal

of the season in the 81st.

Arsenal’s Armand Traore seized on Milner’s misplaced pass and

picked out Theo Walcott on the right flank with a long diagonal

pass. The England winger passed to Fabregas, who ran between two

defenders before slotting home.

However, Fabregas then clutched his left hamstring as his

teammates celebrated.

“It’s a recurrence of his hamstring – we knew before the game

it was not perfect,” Wenger said. “I feel I did the right thing by

gambling. I was cautious as well but I would do it again because

sometimes you follow your instinct in a game.”

Fabregas will undergo a scan Monday to discover whether he

has pulled his hamstring again.

“If it’s scar tissue, he will be out for just a few days. But

if it’s a pulled hamstring, it’s three weeks,” Wenger said.

At Hull, Rooney scored one and played a part in the three

other goals.

The England striker put United in front in first-half

stoppage time, turning in Darren Fletcher’s cross.

Hull was gifted a route back into the game after Rooney’s

weak back pass allowed Fagan to nip in to win the ball. Fagan

crossed to Jozy Altidore, and the U.S. striker was bundled over by

United defender Rafael da Silva. Fagan slotted in the penalty in

the 60th.

“It was my mistake for the goal and I don’t think the manager

would have been too happy if we hadn’t gone on to win,” Rooney

said. “It was a horrible feeling to let the lads down. I don’t

think it’s happened to me before.”

Rooney redeemed himself by whipping in the cross that Dawson

inadvertently turned into his own goal in the 73rd.

Rooney helped to kill of the match nine minutes later by

picking out Berbatov at the far post, and the Bulgaria striker

tapped the ball into the net.