English Premiership

Wenger sweats over injuries

2014-01-14 07:49
Arsene Wenger (AFP)

Birmingham - Arsene Wenger is sweating on the fitness of two of his Arsenal stars after his side climbed back to the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win at Aston Villa.

Goals from Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud within the space of 60 seconds in the first half at Villa Park on Monday gave the Gunners a fourth successive league win and lifted them one point clear of second placed Manchester City, but the success came at a cost.

Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky suffered a suspected broken nose following a clash with Gabriel Agbonlahor while Spanish left-back Nacho Monreal will go for a scan on an injured foot.

"Rosicky has a bad nose, I don't know if it was broken," Wenger said.

"I don't know if it was an elbow or not, I did not see. Maybe it was an accident but Monreal needs a check on his metatarsal."

While the injuries took a little of the gloss off Arsenal's return to the top, Wenger was still pleased with his team's performance and particularly happy with England midfielder Wilshere, who made the second for Giroud after scoring the first.

"Jack has found a change of pace, these games are about that and penetration," he said.

"He's not just a passer but someone who is incisive with the ball. For that you need to be at the top of his game physically.

"It was a big win. It was two different halves. We showed our passing in the first half and second we showed our defensive qualities in the second.

"Villa had two different styles and were very direct in the second half.

"Maybe we were a bit cautious at 2-0 but our defenders kept us in the game.

"I don't know if they were too confident or cautious. We lost a bit of incisiveness and the ability to score more.

"We had to give a strong response tonight because everyone looks at you. You are a bit more under pressure when you play last in the weekend so you cannot drop points.

"I like the fact we are mentally ready for a fight."

Meanwhile, Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert refused to deny rumours he was interested in signing striker Grant Holt, who he worked with at Norwich, from Championship side Wigan.

"I had Grant Holt at Norwich and he scored goals, he's a proper guy," Lambert said.

"He was fantastic for me. I've just been told there are rumours but until something is concrete we will see."

Villa scored late on when Christian Benteke headed in his first goal in 13 games from Matt Lowton's excellent cross.

But it was too little too late for Lambert's men, who had been knocked off their stride by a first half injury to young defender Nathan Baker.

Baker suffered a mild concussion after being hit by Serge Gnabry's free kick.

"Nathan is a little bit groggy but is OK, he can't remember a thing about what happened," Lambert said.

"It's dangerous. I know from experience you are concussed you are all over the place. And that hit us as we'd worked on the system all week.

"If you are knocked out in the temple you sometimes hear it - and I heard it from the touchline.

"The second half was more like us. I don't think if we got an equaliser anyone could begrudge us.

"I said some little things at half-time and they responded fantastically.

"We want to get the crowd going and we were playing against a top side, vying for the title and Champions League and we gave them a fright.

"It was around this time last season Christian started to get his run of goals. It was a great header and a great cross."



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