Fergie left counting cost as injuries mar victory
MANCHESTER UNITED were left counting the cost of getting off to a winning start in the "four massive away games" manager Alex Ferguson believes could decide the Premier League title race.
The champions delivered the perfect response to Manchester City's last-gasp victory over Tottenham by beating Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium yesterday.
But victory came at what could be a heavy price ahead of Saturday's FA Cup showdown at Liverpool, with Phil Jones, Nani, Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick all leaving London with injuries.
Jones was today set to learn the extent of the ankle ligament damage that saw him carried off on a stretcher inside 17 minutes, with Ferguson fearing the defender was likely to be sidelined for "a few weeks".
Nani boarded the team bus wearing a protective boot on his right foot, Rooney also limped his way out of the stadium and Carrick played through the pain of a hamstring strain.
"It's not good news for us," said Ferguson, who was already without Rio Ferdinand, Anderson, Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young, Michael Owen and long-term absentees Darren Fletcher and Nemanja Vidic.
"I think Jones will be out for a few weeks, it's ankle ligaments. Carrick was feeling his hamstring in the second half and he just had to sit in the middle of the pitch."
Their sacrifice was not in vain, with the win taking United back to within three points of City.
"It was important to win after City had won their game, but the manner in which we won was the more pleasing thing for me," Ferguson said, before looking ahead to even tougher trips to Chelsea, Tottenham and City.
"I said before the game that we had four massive away games to come and that's one out the way. What we need to do is stay on City's coat-tails."
Ferguson singled out match-winner Danny Welbeck for special praise.
"Danny was fantastic," he said. "He could have scored five. For a 21-year-old, he's doing really well."
Welbeck said: "I'm over the moon, but the team worked tirelessly."