Fabregas the inspiration as Arsenal go second
Arsenal moved into the heat of the battle at the top of the English Premier League with a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday, dpa reported.
Cesc Fabregas came off the substitutes' bench to score two second-half goals and Abu Diaby scored a late third to lift Arsenal to second in the table, four points behind leaders Chelsea but with a game in hand.
After Chelsea were held to a 0-0 draw at Birmingham City on Boxing Day, Arsenal knew that victory would put them back in the title race but Villa made life tough for them in the first half.
Emile Heskey went close for fourth-placed Villa, who had beaten both Chelsea and champions Manchester United this season.
But they were generally on the back foot and when Fabregas came off the bench 10 minutes into the second half, the match turned.
First the Spain midfielder curled a free kick into the corner of the net from 25 yards and then he finished off a brilliant move to double their lead.
The only bad note for Arsenal came when Fabregas had to go off after a 27-minute cameo with a recurrence of his hamstring problem, but Diaby slotted in the third to seal a confident win.
Later on Sunday, champions United can go back above Arsenal and move within two points of Chelsea if they win at Hull.