City dealt Aguero injury blow as they close gap at top

Arsenal lose fourth game in seven at Stoke despite fightback.
Sergio Aguero of Manchester City reacts after sustaining an injury during their English Premier League match against Everton. Reuters
Sergio Aguero of Manchester City reacts after sustaining an injury during their English Premier League match against Everton. Reuters

It was a bittersweet night for Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium as they beat Everton 1-0 to cut the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea to three points, but lost Sergio Aguero to a knee injury.

The Argentine, City’s top scorer with 19 goals, went down holding his left leg after tumbling under a challenge from Muhamed Besic in the early stages of the Premier League game last night.

After receiving treatment, he was helped to the side of the pitch by City’s medical staff, but with tears visible in his eyes, the decision was made to send on 18-year-old Jose Pozo in his place.

The injury to Aguero, 26, falls at a particularly unfortunate time for City manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose side face a crucial Uefa Champions League group game away to Roma on Wednesday, which they realistically need to win to progress to the knockout stages.

City rallied in the absence of Aguero, who has been in inspirational form in recent games, with Yaya Toure scoring the only goal from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute after James Milner was knocked over by Everton centre-back Phil Jagielka.

However, Everton threatened throughout and City had goalkeeper Joe Hart to thank for a superb one-handed save from a Romelu Lukaku volley in the final stages.

Meanwhile, Arsenal’s appalling recent record at Stoke City continued as they gifted the hosts a 3-0 half-time lead before staging a second-half fightback in vain.

Arsene Wenger’s side were eventually beaten 3-2 – their fourth loss at the Britannia Stadium in seven seasons, with two others ending in draws.

This time, Arsenal needed only 19 seconds to begin unravelling against a side Wenger believes plays with more “animosity” against his side than any other club.

Peter Crouch put Stoke ahead inside a minute and goals from Bojan and Jon Walters had Stoke clear by half time before a Santi Cazorla penalty and Aaron Ramsey’s goal gave Arsenal hope.

However, they could not complete the comeback after having Calum Chambers sent off and Wenger will again face questions after two consecutive league wins appeared to have put Arsenal’s stuttering season back on track.

“A lot of regrets because we have given a lot,” Wenger told the BBC. “We had a great energy level and a great response, and collectively, the spirit of the team is fantastic.

“But we missed defensively our start of the game and we paid a very heavy price for that. We gave very easy goals away and we were not decisive enough in the challengers.

“When you are 3-0 down, you have a mountain to climb. We did it and we tried it, but we were a bit unlucky in the end.”

Stoke and Arsenal clashes have had an extra edge since Ramsey’s leg was broken by a Ryan Shawcross tackle in 2010 during Arsenal’s only Premier League era victory at Stoke.

“For [Stoke] it’s the game of the year,” Wenger said. “They look to have a bit more animosity against us than other teams when you watch on television, so you have to be a bit more committed and have the commitment from the start.

“We did have it, but it was too late in the game.”

Published: December 7, 2014 04:00 AM

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