Arsenal beat Stoke to close in on United

 Sebastien Squillaci, who was playing in place of the injured Laurent Koscielny, was the unlikely match-winner when he headed home his first Premier League goal after only eight minutes.

However, Fabregas went off with a hamstring injury after 15 minutes and Walcott was stretchered off with a damaged ankle 20 minutes from time and will miss Sunday's League (Carling) Cup final against Birmingham City at Wembley.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told reporters: "Theo Walcott has an ankle sprain and he is out. For how long, I don't know, but he is definitely out of Sunday.

"Fabregas has a hamstring problem. We will assess that tomorrow. It is impossible to see how serious it is tonight. We will know tomorrow." With Arsenal chasing four trophies in the Premier League, League Cup, Champions League and FA Cup, Wenger will be concerned about a lengthening injury list.

Dutch winger Robin Van Persie and Koscielny are already doubtful for Wembley, and although Fabregas went off as a precautionary step, he will be desperate to play against Barcelona in the Champions League at the Nou Camp on March 8.  Walcott's woes looked more serious after he was carried off the Emirates Stadium pitch following a challenge from Stoke's Dean Whitehead. As he fell, his left ankle caught and twisted in the turf and he looked to be in some pain.

The three points left Arsenal with 56 points from 27 games, while United are on 57 with a game in hand.

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