KANU (2)

Kanu salutes his first goal of the afternoon and Arsenal's third.

Patrick Vieira finishes off a slick move to make it 4-0.

Patrick punches the air in delight.

Kanu scores one of the goals of the season with this audacious back-heel flick.

Kanu and Anelka celebrate.

Anelka gets his second and Arsenal's sixth to round off a great performance.

1 - 6
Attendance : 34,630

GOAL crazy Arsenal stormed to the top of the Premiership with our second scoring spree in just five days.

Having hit five past Wimbledon on Monday, we went one better with this six of the best at the Riverside, where Middlesbrough had not lost for seven games.

Arsenal made the perfect start to this crucial clash with a goal after just three minutes. Patrick Vieira's inch-perfect pass sent Nicolas Anelka sprinting into the box and Boro defender Steve Vickers clipped the strikers heels as he was about to shoot.

With normal penalty taker Dennis Bergkamp out with a groin strain, Marc Overmars stepped up to score from the spot.

Backed by a vociferous home crowd, Boro poured forward, but our well drilled defence rode out the storm with Steve Bould in for the suspended Martin Keown.

On 38 minutes, we resumed control with a well taken second goal. A quick break from defence saw Vieira again send Anelka clear.

This time there was no covering defender and the French teenager slotted home his first goal since he scored at Newcastle at the end of February.

Boro could have got back into this match just before the break but David Seaman brilliantly palmed away Dean Gordon's 25-yard volley.

Then, in first half stoppage time, Arsenal grabbed the third with Anelka setting it up. He crossed from the right and Kanu escaped Vladimir Kinder's attention to score.

The rout continued after the break. Overmars had already shot wide and Lee Dixon driven just over the bar before Arsenal grabbed the fourth in the 57th minute.

Anelka raced down the right wing and Overmars touched his cross to the unmarked Vieira who tucked away a simple chance.

Three minutes later, Kanu conjured up a moment of genius for the fifth. Again Anelka crossed from the right and this time the Nigerian appeared at the near post to back- flick his shot beyond Schwarzer and into the far corner of the net.

Boro's Hamilton Ricard almost grabbed a consolation goal on 71 minutes when his curling free-kick rebounded off a post. But normal service was resumed six minutes later when Anelka went round two defenders before firing home from the edge of the area.

Soon afterwards Vickers cleared off the goal line to prevent Anelka scoring his second hat-trick of the season.

In the closing minutes Boro's Alun Armstrong headed home Kinder's free-kick but even after that Diawara could have scored a seventh but he flicked his shot wide of a post.

Arsene Wenger said: "If we had lost and Manchester United had won at Leeds it was all over. We have kept it interesting.

"They knew they had to win and anything else would not be good enough. I have had some great games since I've been here but this was in the top ten.

"We didn't go into the match thinking we must score six - I would have signed for one-nil before the game. But we needed some goals to reduce the goal difference with United.

"I wanted three points as well, but we got both."

Boro manager Bryan Robson admitted: "That was the best performance against us since I've been in charge here - it hurts."

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