Arsenal 1 Newcastle 0: We're back on the right track

Last updated : 10 November 2002 By Brian Dawes

Vieira - Back in charge of the midfield
Our midfield saw Freddie and Sylv wide giving the Geordie fullbacks a torrid time, with Pat and Gilberto powering a solid platform centrally. The injured Lauren was replaced by Oleg who was certainly worthy of his place today and worthy of the phone in vote that ranked him Arsenal's man of the match. Thierry and Dennis both had a decent but unspectacular match up front while Sol, Pascal and Ashley all performed creditably in defence in front of Dave. Dave had little to do but looked totally in control of any jobs he was asked to perform.

We kicked off and attacked the Clock End in the first half, where within the first five minutes a move involving Gilberto and Thierry put Dennis in with a chance. Bergkamp delayed long enough to pick a spot to aim at, which unfortunately for us happened to be against the post. We hoped it wasn't going to be another one of those days. The Toon had the lively Dyer up front supporting Shearer and his electric pace could have been a problem but Sol and Pascal coped admirably.

Gilberto powered through and should have had a crack but hit his pass behind the advancing Freddie. Big handball appeal by the Clock End Gooners but it was not given. Sol broke up a Newcastle attack, those few that they had were smothered by our midfield in the main where our central pairing took almost total control from the off. Great break by Cole ended with a tasty cross that the charging Gilberto couldn't quite reach. Our game was back on track but Newcastle were pushing us hard without ever really looking like they could win it. Oleg was overlapping brilliantly and his combination play with Sylv was the biz. He won us a corner as he charged forward. We won another in quick succession from which Pat went awfully close with a strong header.

Arsenal pressure mounted with a power run from Vieira down the left. Sylv was called offside, no way was it, after a fine break by Gilberto. Wiltord to Oleg again and a low killer cross sees Henry inches away from converting. More power play from Pat, a brilliant cross-field ball Dennis to Thierry who popped up on the right. Newcastle were trying to play us offside as we hit diagonal balls into the corners to peg them deeper. Viano fell over to win a free kick as Sylv looked on for a break. Vieira to Henry who's super low cross was cleared. Freddie to Henry who conjured a great play found Oleg charging behind the fullback. His cross was perfect for Wiltord who slipped it home on about the half-hour mark for a worthy 1-0 lead.

Oleg charging out of defence hit it into Thierry's feet then ploughed on and looked for the return, good stuff. Wiltord set up Dennis who shot wide. Freddie won another corner as The Toon Army keep the volume up, tedious but noisy. A brilliant ball from Vieira to Freddie who chipped Given but the ball landed on the top of the bar. Very close! Campbell cleared and in patches at least the flowing Arsenal were back on track, movement and runs were good, as when it went Oleg to Sylv to Oleg to Sylv to Thierry almost. Pat remained strong in midfield and the Newkie Broons could only manage sporadic attacks. Oleg, seriously up for it by now, was even looking for one-twos with Henry in their box.

Henry beats Given but his shot goes wide
Viano cut in from the left and walloped a curling shot that rattled the underside of Dave's bar but it was against the run of play, it did show however that one goal was no guarantee of three points. Henry found Bergkamp in their box but could only win us another corner. Our pressure all over the park continued to keep the barcodes at bay. More great play from Sylv finding Oleg who went quite close to scoring. Henry did brilliantly and got in a cross that almost ran along their goal-line, Shearer cleared for the corner. One more long range shot from Pat and we had a half-time lead.

All credit to the West Stand Lower bar staff who have at last figured that pouring loads of pints in advance of the half time rush helps us all. Meanwhile back at the action we saw some good juggling by Pat who was on song today. Good defending by Cygan against Dyer. Freddie finds Thierry on another run down the left and it's another corner, with no left footed players, other than Cole and Cygan out there, Thierry and Sylvain shared the corners today but only Pat's header in the first half was a real threat. Cole and Henry combined well down the flank. Sol won an important header and the ref, who otherwise had a reasonable if easy match, still hadn't figured that backing in is an offence. Newcastle pressed but were caught offside all too easily. Cole was grabbed by Solano who'd been quiet today.

A fine eight or nine man move by the Gunners saw Pat find Cole before the keeper cleared. Ljungberg tied Griffin in knots and it ended with a free-kick just outside their box and a yellow card to boot. Dennis took it, Sylv hits one on the turn. Oleg set up a move as Sylv won another corner. At the other end Seaman took a high ball with ease. Henry had a shot blocked having cut inside from the left. The Arsenal crowd woke again up at this point and Freddie hit a killer ball for Dennis but it wasn't read by our Dutchman. Gilberto and everyone else are closing United down and forcing errors. Freddie to Wiltord on the right, who rifled a decent cross in but it seems to go under Henry's feet.

Wiltord and Viana fight for the ball
Ratty play by Viano who kicked the ball away gets him a booking. Solano miffed as he was flagged offside very late, it was offside but ridiculously late. Bob comes on for Dennis while Newcastle make a treble substitution as Bernard, Gavilan and Ameobi join the play (I think). Another run and cross from Oleg who's clearly enjoyed the match. Bob has a shot blocked as a bit of a late charge from Newcastle just hits a brick wall of Arsenal players double banked in front of Seaman's goal. Pires found Henry who shot just past the far post with his left foot. The 'Thierry Henry' chant naturally followed. Pascal did well against saint Alan once more. Ameobi fouled Vieira but free kicks in this match were pretty minimal as I recall. Cole to Pires, return ball as Ashley continued his run to win a free kick. Henry took it but it's driven into the arms of Given.

Arsenal were still working hard for an opening. Pires broke and Pat made a superb overlapping run to win another corner. But how many times do we convert corners? This one was followed by yet another corner as Cygan took a battering. Wiltord to Cygan to Pires who fired over. Gilberto pressured Givens following Ljungberg's break down the right. Another Ljungberg cross another corner. We were working well and still looking in control, although Sol was called upon to make the odd intervention or clearance. Edu replaced Wiltord on 90 minutes to close up shop and the final three minutes were tense but without real threat. Game over, three points and rather pleasingly both Liverpool and Manure had dropped three apiece today. We are back on track.