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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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Walcott to miss Carling Cup final

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed Theo Walcott sprained his ankle in the 1-0 win over Stoke and will miss Sunday's Carling Cup final against Birmingham.

• Adams: Gunners count cost of win

Walcott was bundled over by Dean Whitehead on the edge of the box in the 68th minute, but referee Peter Walton waved play on. The 21-year-old stayed on the ground, clearly in pain, before being carried off on a stretcher to be replaced by Denilson.

"He has an ankle sprain and he is out for how long I cannot tell you, for Sunday he is definitely out,'' Wenger said.

The Frenchman also said Cesc Fabregas suffered a hamstring injury and will be assessed by the club on Thursday, having lasted just 14 minutes before being replaced by Andrey Arshavin.

''Fabregas is a hamstring problem, we will assess tomorrow, tonight it is impossible to say how serious,'' he added. ''It is of course a concern that he [Fabregas] is injured but it happens unfortunately. He was very upset. I am as well. But it is not his fault or mine. It is part of sport. 'It's strange when it happens early in the game but we have to face it. We did the job after that in a very professional way.''

Fabregas took to Twitter to vow he would do his utmost to be fit for the final.

He wrote: "I dont know if I'll make Sunday or not, but all I know is that from this moment to Sunday 16:30 I won't sleep if it's necessary. I've waited too long to captain a final for Arsenal and I won't give up till the last second."

Wenger also believes that his side showed a maturity tonight that has been lacking since he last won a league championship in 2004.

''I think we have matured, certainly, because we won a game tonight when we were less creative and fluent, with intelligence and calm and that is what has changed,'' he said. ''One or two years ago we would have dropped points. Tonight they said they couldn't make mistakes. We must take a lot of credit because of that.''

The result came as a relief after Sunday's 1-1 draw against Leyton Orient and Wenger urged his team to now kick on in the league.

''This kind of wins shows that your team is really hungry for success,'' he added. ''We were less sharp on the creative side but you could tell that my side didn't want to make a mistake and that was a very positive sign for me.''

Potters boss Tony Pulis was proud of the way his 10th-placed team held their own and was upset not to have grabbed a point.

''For the first 10 minutes we looked like rabbits in headlights,'' Pulis said. ''They looked like scoring from any phase of play and it looked as though it was going to be a long night. Gradually we got into the game and we were desperately disappointed not to get something from it in the end.''

The home crowd booed Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross every time he touched the ball because of the leg-breaking tackle he made on Gunners midfielder Aaron Ramsey at the Britannia Stadium this time last year.

This was the first time the two clubs had met since the game and Pulis was delighted with the way that the defender performed.

''He did smashing. I was really pleased with Ryan tonight,'' Pulis said. ''He didn't do anything wrong tonight. The incident with Ramsey was very unfortunate for two young players, for Ramsey because of the injury, and for Ryan too because of the tag he will have against him because of the tackle but he has just got on with his job.''

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