He came, he saw, he conked out again... But Arsene Wenger defends risking two-goal Cesc Fabregas

Arsene Wenger insisted he would not shy away from another gamble on Cesc Fabregas’s fitness after his skipper inspired Arsenal to a victory over Aston Villa.

Fabregas came off the bench in the second half and galvanised Arsenal to a 3-0 win which leaves them four points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand. Manchester United stay second after Wayne Rooney inspired them to a 3-1 win at Hull.

Fabregas lashed in a 25-yard free-kick before finishing off a quick-fire second. But he limped off soon after and watched as Abou Diaby added a third in stoppage time.

Cesc Fabregas fires Arsenal into the lead with a sumptuous freekick against Aston Villa

Galvanised: Fabregas whips Arsenal into the lead with a glorious free-kick

Wenger said: ‘If you can prove to me we would have won the game without him coming on, I was wrong. He adds creativity and at that moment I felt that was needed.’

But Wenger’s risk-taking could see Fabregas recurrence of a hamstring strain, not that the Arsenal manager felt he had much choice.

‘Fabregas is happy we won the game but is concerned about his hamstring,’ said Wenger, who also saw Denilson forced off with a back problem.

Cesc Fabregas limps away in celebration

Feeling the pain: The Spaniard limps away in celebration after his second goal

‘We don’t know if it’s a recurrence of the pull or just scar tissue. We’ll know more about it tomorrow. If it’s scar tissue it’s a few days, if it’s a recurrence it’s three weeks.'

The win gives Arsenal breathing space over Villa in fourth place, even if it once again illustrated Wenger’s need to shop for a new striker in the transfer window.

‘It’s a massive result when you look at where we were a few weeks ago,’ added Wenger. ‘Credit to the team, they didn’t give up when everybody had written us off.

'We kept going and that shows that the team have shown mental strength. It makes it interesting now. We are in a strong position.’

On the subject of buying a replacement for the injured Robin van Persie, Wenger said: ‘We will keep our eyes open and if a good opportunity turns up we will do it. I will have to look maybe as well at midfielders.

'If we lose Denilson and Fabregas we will be short there.’

Villa manager Martin O’Neill refused to be too downhearted.

‘We were right in it until the free-kick, and Fabregas’s contribution was immense in the time he was on,’ he said. ‘We are up there because we deserve to be and it is up to us now to see if we can maintain the form which put us there in the first place.’

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now