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Updated: January 18, 2010 15:19 IST

Fabregas inspired Arsenal beat Bolton

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CAPTAIN FANTASTIC: Cesc Fabregas was the driving force behind Arsenal's 2-0 victory over Bolton on Sunday. File Photo: AP
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC: Cesc Fabregas was the driving force behind Arsenal's 2-0 victory over Bolton on Sunday. File Photo: AP

Goals from Cesc Fabregas and Fran Merida gave Arsenal a 2-0 win at Bolton on Sunday, taking them to just three points behind leaders Chelsea in the English Premier League.

The win leaves Arsenal still in third place on 45 points but with a game in hand on second-placed Manchester United, who have 47 points.

Arsenal captain Fabregas gave his side the lead with a superb strike after half an hour. After a patient build-up, a swift one-two with Eduardo allowed the Spanish midfielder space to fire a clinical low shot past Jussi Jaaskelainen.

It was Fabregas again who paved the way for the decisive second goal 12 minutes from time. He found Eduardo again on the left, whose cross reached Fran Merida to power in from eight yards.

In manager Owen Coyle’s first match in charge of Bolton since leaving Burnley, the home side put up a solid fight for much of the match and might have equalized early in the second half through Matt Taylor.

The left-sided midfielder had only to beat Manuel Almunia from ten metres but fired his shot high and wide to leave Bolton still struggling in the relegation zone on 18 points.

West Ham hold Villa

Elsewhere, Aston Villa were frustrated in their chase for a Champions League position as West Ham United held them to a 0-0 draw at Villa Park.

With Manchester City losing, and both Tottenham and Liverpool only managing draws on Saturday, Villa manager Martin O’Neill will see the result as a missed opportunity.

The draw keeps Villa in sixth place on 36 points, two points behind fourth-placed Tottenham. West Ham’s result lifts Gianfranco Zola’s side out of the relegation zone and onto 19 points.

Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor had a golden chance to claim a late winner for the home side in injury time, as he beat James Tomkins to close in on Robert Green, but a heavy touch allowed the West Ham goalkeeper to come off his line and clear the danger.

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