Squillaci (centre) was selected in place of the injured Laurent Koscielny
By Sam Sheringham
Sebastien Squillaci was the unlikely hero as Arsenal beat Stoke to move to within one point of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table.
But the win was tarnished by concern over captain Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott, who both came off injured.
Walcott had already hit the post before defender Squillaci headed home Nicklas Bendtner's cross to put Arsenal ahead.
Stoke improved and Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny denied John Carew before Robert Huth headed over the bar.
Arsenal's delight at moving into United's slipstream will be tempered by worry over Fabregas and Walcott.
Fabregas will have his hamstring injury assessed on Thursday morning but Walcott's ankle sprain has already ruled him out of playing in Sunday's Carling Cup final against Birmingham at Wembley.
With the Gunners fighting for trophies on four fronts, manager Arsene Wenger can ill afford to lose two of his key players at such a crucial stage of the season.
The injuries came in each half of the first meeting between the sides since Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey broke his leg in a tackle from Stoke centre-back Ryan Shawcross.
But on this occasion, the injuries occurred in fairly innocuous circumstances, with Fabregas feeling a tweak off the ball and being withdrawn as a precaution, and Walcott twisting his ankle in the turf as he fell under a challenge from Dean Whitehead.
It had not taken long for Fabregas and Walcott to demonstrate exactly whey they are so important to the north Londoners.
With a minute gone, Jack Wilshere dribbled past two defenders and found Fabregas, whose through ball picked out Walcott well inside the box, but the England winger's close-range shot cannoned back off the far post.
The home side were rampant and Walcott had two more opportunities to score before Squillaci gave them the lead in the eighth minute.
A Wilshere corner passed through to Bendtner at the far post and the Dane controlled the ball before teeing up Squillaci for the most straightforward of headers.
The loss of Fabregas, who was replaced by Andrey Arshavin after 14 minutes, seemed to have a negative effect on Arsenal's players, their attacks lacking finesse and tending to peter out with a misplaced pass on the edge of the visitors' box.
With the Gunners monopolising possession, Szczesny might as well have been sat at home with a pipe and slippers. But, when he was finally called upon, he displayed the reactions and agility that have made him Arsenal's undisputed number one this season.
A Stoke long ball was headed back by Jon Walters for Carew, whose powerful first-time drive was palmed away by the Pole as he dived full-stretch to his right.
Perhaps sensing vulnerability in Arsenal, the visitors started the second-half on the front foot and came close to equalising when Shawcross - captaining Stoke almost exactly a year after the Ramsey incident- met Jermaine Pennant's cross with a header that was deflected over the bar by Johan Djourou.
Shortly afterwards, Szczesny was beaten to a Rory Delap long throw by Huth but the German centre-half's header sailed over the bar.
At the other end, Arshavin jinked past Shawcross before pulling the ball back for Walcott, who sliced wide under pressure from Huth.
Following the England wideman's withdrawal, Stoke continued to press for an equaliser and Pennant came agonisingly close with a free-kick that floated past the post.
But the visitors could not conjure a breakthrough and eventually succumbed to their fifth away league defeat in a row.
90:00+5:30 The referee blows his whistle to end the game.
90:00+4:21 Free kick awarded for a foul by Bacary Sagna on Ricardo Fuller. Indirect free kick taken by Asmir Begovic.
90:00+2:40 Glenn Whelan gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Alex Song. Samir Nasri takes the direct free kick.
90:00+1:40 Corner taken short by Andrey Arshavin.
88:05 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Jermaine Pennant from the left by-line, free kick awarded for a foul by Neves Denilson
on Glenn Whelan. Shot comes in from Jermaine Pennant from the free kick.
86:42 Andrey Arshavin is caught offside. Free kick taken by Asmir Begovic.
86:42 Substitution Andy Wilkinson on for Marc Wilson.
84:11 Corner taken by Jack Wilshere.
83:39 Marc Wilson concedes a free kick for a foul on Marouane Chamakh. Andrey Arshavin crosses the ball in from the free kick, Ryan
Shawcross manages to make a clearance.
83:39 Booking Marc Wilson shown a yellow card.
81:45 The assistant referee signals for offside against John Carew. Wojciech Szczesny takes the indirect free kick.
81:30 Ricardo Fuller takes a shot. Gael Clichy gets a block in.
80:21 The assistant referee signals for offside against Ricardo Fuller. Wojciech Szczesny takes the indirect free kick.
79:02 Substitution Nicklas Bendtner leaves the field to be replaced by Marouane Chamakh.
78:07 Free kick awarded for a foul by Ryan Shawcross on Bacary Sagna. Wojciech Szczesny takes the free kick.
77:11 Substitution Jonathan Walters goes off and Ricardo Fuller comes on.
76:35 The assistant referee flags for offside against Nicklas Bendtner. Indirect free kick taken by Asmir Begovic.
73:48 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Jack Wilshere, Nicklas Bendtner has a headed effort at goal from close in
which goes wide right of the goal.
72:46 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Nicklas Bendtner by Dean Whitehead. Direct free kick taken by Gael Clichy.
70:24 Substitution Theo Walcott leaves the field to be replaced by Neves Denilson.
67:14 The official flags John Carew offside. Indirect free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.
66:28 Unfair challenge on John Carew by Johan Djourou results in a free kick. Jermaine Pennant takes the direct free kick.
Correction - 63:42 Effort on goal by Theo Walcott from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
63:42 Shot by Theo Walcott from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
63:15 Jack Wilshere takes a shot. Save by Asmir Begovic.
62:10 Danny Pugh fouled by Alex Song, the ref awards a free kick. Danny Pugh takes the direct free kick.
60:38 Theo Walcott takes a shot. Blocked by Robert Huth.
57:44 Header on goal by Robert Huth from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.
54:00 Gael Clichy concedes a free kick for a foul on Jermaine Pennant. Jermaine Pennant delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed
from right wing.
54:00 Booking Gael Clichy receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.
52:23 The offside flag is raised against Jermaine Pennant. Gael Clichy restarts play with the free kick.
51:44 Jermaine Pennant concedes a free kick for a foul on Andrey Arshavin. Andrey Arshavin takes the free kick.
51:21 Foul by Dean Whitehead on Andrey Arshavin, free kick awarded. Sebastien Squillaci restarts play with the free kick.
48:14 Jonathan Walters takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, Nicklas Bendtner makes a clearance.
Correction - 48:02 Ryan Shawcross takes a shot. Blocked by Johan Djourou.
48:02 Ryan Shawcross takes a shot. Blocked by Alex Song.
46:27 Foul by John Carew on Johan Djourou, free kick awarded. Wojciech Szczesny restarts play with the free kick.
45:01 The game restarts for the second half.
45:00+1:22 The match has reached half-time.
43:53 Shot by Dean Whitehead from just outside the area goes over the net.
42:02 Theo Walcott fouled by Jonathan Walters, the ref awards a free kick. Jack Wilshere restarts play with the free kick.
42:02 Booking Jonathan Walters receives a yellow card.
40:37 Dean Whitehead fouled by Sebastien Squillaci, the ref awards a free kick. Jermaine Pennant crosses the ball in from the free
kick, save made by Wojciech Szczesny.
38:56 Free kick awarded for a foul by Robert Huth on Andrey Arshavin. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in from Samir
38:29 Samir Nasri decides to take the corner short.
36:40 Samir Nasri is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Asmir Begovic takes the free kick.
35:22 Effort from 25 yards by John Carew. Save by Wojciech Szczesny.
33:22 The ball is sent over by Bacary Sagna, Robert Huth makes a clearance.
28:18 John Carew is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Sebastien Squillaci.
26:15 Andrey Arshavin takes a shot. Save by Asmir Begovic.
13:20 Substitution Andrey Arshavin is brought on as a substitute for Francesc Fabregas.
11:13 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jermaine Pennant by Nicklas Bendtner. Indirect free kick taken by Marc Wilson.
8:29 Glenn Whelan takes a shot. Blocked by Francesc Fabregas.
7:14 Assist by Nicklas Bendtner.
7:14 GOAL - Sebastien Squillaci:Arsenal 1 - 0 Stoke Sebastien Squillaci finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close range. Arsenal 1-0 Stoke.
6:49 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Jack Wilshere from the right by-line,
5:42 The referee blows for offside against John Carew. Wojciech Szczesny takes the free kick.
5:06 Jack Wilshere gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jermaine Pennant. Ryan Shawcross takes the free kick.
3:21 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Jermaine Pennant from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Francesc
2:09 Theo Walcott produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the target.
1:07 Effort from inside the area by Theo Walcott strikes the post.
0:00 The match gets underway.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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