Parlour 2
Anelka 3

'1-0' Nic Anelka races on to Bergkamp's pass and fires home.

Dennis slides the ball through to Super Nic and...

'2-0' Anelka finishes in similar fashion.

Lee, Patrick and Marc lead the applause.

'3-0' Ray Parlour grabs his first of the afternoon.

Patrick Vieira is first to congratulate Ray.

'4-0' Marc Overmars squares to Anelka who bags his hat-trick.

'5-0' Ray caps a great afternoon with his second and Arsenal's fifth.

Dennis Bergkamp earns his 'Dutch Destroyer' tag.

ARSENAL vs Leicester
5 - 0
Attendance : 38,069

By David Alexander

A Nicolas Anelka hat-trick capped a fine display by Arsenal to send out a warning that the Gunners are in business and intent on fighting to retain their Premiership crown.

Two more from Ray Parlour capped a fine display, but with Chelsea and Manchester United both winning, the Gunners made no ground on their title rivals.

But Arsene Wenger was more concerned with the performance than the championship. He said: "You could see our confidence was high. We had a lot of great passing, our movement was good and we were very efficient at the back.

"The timing of Dennis Bergkamp's passing was magnificent and the runs of Anelka and Overmars were great. Today dennis has shown that you can play very well and still not score.

"When Anelka gets in front he knows nobody can catch him and that gives him the confidence to concentrate on his finishing."

Meanwhile, Leicester manager Martin O'Neill went over to his fans at the end to apologise for his team's display and he explained: "I told the fans we were sorry - I've not had to do that too many times.

"Arsenal were fantastic and they have world class players. There are no excuses. we were pummelled.

"I would love to say we were second best, but we were not even remotely close to that."

Arsenal started the game intent on creating an early opening to subdue their Midlands opponents.

As early as the opening minute, Dennis Bergkamp ran through the Leicester defence and almost caused them problems and Marc Overmars also started to look menacing.

But there was a subdued atmosphere to the game after the excitement of the past week. It was as if most people in the crowd expected Arsenal to win, but an early goal seemed necessary to calm the nerves.

The earliest clear-cut chance came twelve minutes into the game. Ray Parlour fed Bergkamp with a pinpoint pass and the Dutchman got ahead of the defence before firing across goal and wide.

When Robert Ullathorne got injured 20 minutes into the game, there were ironic cheers as Lee Dixon threw the ball back towards his opponents.

Arsenal continued to look the more accomplished side, though the exertions at Old Trafford appeared to have taken their toll.

But Super Nic Anelka gave us the lead 22 minutes into the game. A simple lofted ball by Bergkamp caught out the Leicester defence, Anelka beat Sinclair for pace and blasted into the far corner.

There was relief from the Highbury faithful, aware that the longer the game went on, the more tension could have filtered through to the pitch.

But any doubts we would win this game, a match most expected us to win, were expelled five minutes later when the same combination opened up the Foxes again.

Bergkamp played a low ball through to Anelka, who intelligently beat the offside trap and fired low past Leicester keeper Kasey Keller.

All of a sudden we found another gear without fully stretching ourselves.

Patrick Vieira played a one-two with Anelka and the lanky midfielder was denied by fast work from Keller.

When a Leicester attack broke down five minutes from the interval, we looked certain to add a third. Vieira passed to Bergkamp and his shot flew over the crossbar.

But Bergkamp turned provider for the third time in the game when he created the third. Arsenal were picking out passes for fun and when the Dutchman fed Parlour - who had not been enjoying the best of games, he added our third.

Who says Overmars never passes to Anelka? He tormented the Foxes defence before laying on a loy cross which Anelka tapped in for his hat-trick.

So comfortable at the break and an exhibition of free-flowing football.

The second half was only three minutes old when Parlour got his second, taking advantage of the Leicester defence waiting for Anelka to make a move before taking the ball off the Frenchman's feet and lashing in with his left foot.

While the 'offensive power' as Arsene Wenger likes to call it, was as good as this, anything was possible. Some neat trickery by Bergkamp inside his own half ended with a fine pass which Vieira hit first time goalwards.

Only Keller's fingertips diverted the shot onto the post and across goal before being cleared. It should have been six. Nelson Vivas played a delightful cross-field ball which again confused the visitors' defence but Bergkamp's tap was too soft to test Keller.

Wenger brought on the full complement of subs and Kaba Diawara hit the side netting as the game slowed, with Bergkamp also going close.

But five it was to stay and the rest of the title challengers better watch out...

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