Arsenal 2 Leeds United 3: We got what we deserved, i.e. nothing.
Report of match 4th May 2003
Reporter Brian Dawes
Well what can I say, we didn't blow the season on this one game, we blew it by dropping nine points against Blackburn, Villa, United and Bolton.
With Kolo at right back and Oleg at centre back, no Sol, Pascal, Freddie, Franny, Edu or Pat it has to be said we've put out stronger eleven's. Leeds started with Kelly and Matteo in midfield and never attacked with more than two and a bit, the bit being Wilcox. Any sign of an Arsenal attack and they had nine back behind the ball. We hit the bar with a header from a Pires corner as early as the third minute, it was that sort of day. Gilberto's header rattled the woodwork and it has to be mentioned that he coped with his jet lag to put in a solid performance today. Leeds however broke through Kewell who took his goal well to make it 0-1. A crap start.
Referee Alan Wiley is more likely to play for us next season than he is to recognise a fat Ozzie wanker backing in, so he didn't spot the first one and penalised us to boot, he failed to spot and subsequently as well. Parlour, Cole and Henry were giving their all but it needed more players to join them in the fight. Seaman stood up well when Kewell countered for Leeds. Dennis had a low shot saved. Henry had a shot saved while Rob's follow up won us a corner. Bakke only got spoken to for upending Rob. Amazing how refs start off booking six or seven players before half time at the start of the season but by the end of it they're bending over backwards not to hand out yellows for crude tackles and blatant cheating.
Henry's left foot shot was easy for Robinson. Henry chasing down player after Leeds player sparked the crowd into higher vocal action. Kolo to Dennis but a limp header went wide. Cole stormed forward and shot after beating Kewell to a 50/50 but he bent it wide. A great long range shot from Ray was saved and came back off the bar. Thierry followed up and nodded home to make it 1-1. An Arsenal header was cleared off their line shortly after. Henry's shot saved and Wiltord netted following up but he was called offside. Dennis, Kolo and Sylvain involved as Wiltord turned and shot.
Viduka headed wide and Keown looked a long way form being fit. Luzhny had trouble getting off the ground but did fairly well at the back throughout by getting to his headers first rather than jumping higher. A good Kewell solo ended with a limp cross. Rob tried to bend one into top corner but it sailed straight on. Parlour was playing like Vieira, he had a storming match and for once the Highbury Library appreciated it. Bakke fouled Henry but his free kick came to nothing. Half time 1-1 and we weren't flowing, it was just a war of contrition where we found it hard to break down a packed defence but were overall the better team.
Kewell went through clearly two yards offside but it was not given. Kanu was seen getting changed and Pires at last began to play, about an hour after everyone else started playing. There was an ad in the match programme showing Rob as Mr Clean Tackle for Fcuk grooming. Well fcuk the grooming Rob it would be nice to see any sort of tackle from you. Pires aimed at the corner flag and narrowly missed. Henry to Rob wide who cut in well, took it on and pulled it back for Dennis to equalise from close range. 2-2.
Some Harte acting, or more probably over-acting saw Dennis get a yellow card. Viduka in the back of Parlour for a yellow card. Henry to Pires to the jet-lagged Gilberto for an air kick. Kanu on for Toure. Brilliant move involving Parlour, Henry and Bergkamp finished just wide. Wiltord won a corner that Keown headed just wide. It was Arsenal all the way as Ray fired one in. Wiltord axed down in midfield - nothing given. Great save low by David Seaman. Wiltord, Bergkamp and Henry broke and once more we hit the post. Pennant on for Wiltord but in the fifteen minutes he had on the pitch the world was not set on fire. Henry shot deflected for a corner. Henry shoved over and landed on the ball, free kick Leeds for handball. 39 on for Kewell. Gio on for Pires. Two fouls on Kanu before one was given. A bad tackle on Dennis that saw Dennis retaliate with an arm-lock was totally missed by Wiley.
All credit to Manure they won the League fair and square because the League table doesn't lie, even when we want it to. They had a great run in while we didn't. Since we got beaten at Old Trafford in early December we've lost only two matches but we've squandered far too many leads and our defence has let us down. More specifically the cover in front of our defence has often let us down. Injuries and suspensions didn't help but that's the same for everyone else as well. It was still good enough for the Champions League form again and naturally we remain the top London Club yet again. At least now we don't now have to rush back any injured players back before May 17th when we still have a day out in Cardiff to look forward to. And there's always next season.
Anyone want my tickets for Sunderland?
|Competition: Barclaycard Premiership Date: Sunday, 4th May 2003 Kick off: 16:05 Venue: Highbury|
|2 - 3||Leeds Utd.
|7||Robert Pires (van Bronckhorst 80)||6|
|28||Kolo Toure (Kanu 70)||6|
|Sylvain Wiltord (Pennant 76)||5|
|16||Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Pires 80)|
|21||Jermaine Pennant (Wiltord 76)|
|25||Nwankwo Kanu (Toure 70)||6|
|10||Harry Kewell (Johnson 80)||8|
|39||Simon Johnson (Kewell 80)|
|Arsenal cards shown|
|65 mins||Dennis Bergkamp||Unsporting behaviour|
|90 mins||Martin Keown||Unsporting behaviour|
|Leeds Utd. cards shown|
|66 mins||Mark Viduka||Unsporting behaviour|