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Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2009

Arsenal, United turn up heat on Chelsea

LONDON (AP) Cesc Fabregas scored twice before being forced off with a recurring hamstring injury in Arsenal's 3-0 victory over Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday, and Manchester United kept pace with a 3-1 win at Hull.

Wayne Rooney put United ahead but Craig Fagan leveled from the penalty spot for Hull, and it took Andy Dawson's own-goal to put the defending champions back in control. Dimitar Berbatov wrapped up United's win.

Chelsea, which hosts Fulham on Monday, is two points ahead of United and a resurgent Arsenal is just two points further behind.

"We are in a strong position," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "We can have belief, but it is a long way to go and we have to keep our feet on the ground and continue to improve together."

Wenger, though, could be without his captain for the next three weeks. Fabregas came on as a substitute but lasted just 27 minutes on his return following two weeks out with a hamstring problem.

He entered the game in the 57th minute and opened the scoring in the 65th by curling a free kick beyond goalkeeper Brad Friedel. Fabregas then scored his ninth league goal of the season in the 81st minute but was limping during the celebrations and holding his left hamstring.

Fabregas will have a scan Monday to determine if he has pulled his hamstring again.

"If it's scar tissue, he will be out for just a few days. But if it's a pulled hamstring, it's three weeks," Wenger said.

At Hull, Rooney scored one and played a part in the three other goals.

The England striker put United in front in first-half stoppage time, turning in Darren Fletcher's cross.

Hull was gifted a route back into the game after Rooney's weak back pass allowed Fagan to nip in to win the ball. Fagan crossed to Jozy Altidore, and the U.S. striker was bundled over by United defender Rafael da Silva. Fagan slotted in the penalty in the 60th.

Rooney redeemed himself by whipping in the cross that Dawson inadvertently turned into his own goal in the 73rd.

Rooney helped to kill off the match nine minutes later by picking out Berbatov at the far post, and the Bulgaria striker tapped the ball into the net.

Star eyes World Cup

SAO PAULO (AP) Ronaldinho says it would be a dream to play in another World Cup and believes he will make Brazil's squad for next year's tournament in South Africa.

Ronaldinho says he wants to return to the national team to help give the Brazilian people another World Cup title.

The AC Milan playmaker told Globo TV on Sunday that he believes a good performance with the Italian club from now until the World Cup begins in June will be key for him to have a chance of playing in soccer's biggest showcase for the third straight time.

The 29-year-old Ronaldinho had a disappointing performance in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, when Brazil was eliminated by France in the quarterfinals.

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