Timely return of duo key to European quest

LONDON - The timely return from injury of Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor and captain Cesc Fabregas might just be manager Arsene Wenger's ticket to an elusive Champions League title.

The pair combined beautifully on Tuesday as Adebayor's majestic bicycle kick secured a valuable 1-1 Champions League quarter-final draw at Villarreal, keeping alive the prospect of a semi-final with Manchester United or Porto.

Despite saying on Monday that his side were "super outsiders" Arsene Wenger remains confident in the ability of his young team to get through the return leg on April 15.

Arsenal's last trophy was the FA Cup in 2005, followed a year later by a 2-1 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona in Paris. Wenger hopes to go one better in Europe this time.

"This team has shown the whole season they are mentally very strong and when they have their backs to the wall, these young players always find an answer," Wenger told his club's website on Tuesday.


Adebayor marked his return from a hamstring injury last weekend with a double strike against Manchester City to stretch Arsenal's unbeaten Premier League run to 17 matches.

Both goals in a 2-0 win were created by Fabregas, also making his comeback from a knee injury sustained in December.

Arsenal did well without the pair, and have lost just three times in 28 matches in all competitions, but the return of two players of the highest class is a boost at just the right time.

While their Premier League ambitions are on hold for another season, the prospect of a cup double remains as Arsenal also prepare to face Chelsea in an FA Cup semi-final on April 18.

Injuries to William Gallas and goalkeeper Manuel Almunia took some gloss off Tuesday's result but with Theo Walcott back, and Abou Diaby and Eduardo da Silva nearing fitness, the balance is certainly moving in Wenger's favour.

"With Gallas, it looks quite serious and could be (a) medial knee ligament injury. We will have to assess it... Manuel's is a re-occurrence of an ankle injury, which probably will be a couple of weeks," Wenger said after Tuesday's match.

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