NEWSROOM
TEAM LINE UP :
SEAMAN
DIXON
ADAMS
KEOWN
VIVAS
PARLOUR
PETIT
VIEIRA
OVERMARS
BERGKAMP
ANELKA
SUBSTITUTES:
LJUNGBERG
DIAWARA
KANU
SCORER:
KANU
FULL TIME REPORT

ARSENAL vs ASTON VILLA
1 - 0
Attendance : 38,308

KANU scored the winner, but he could not prevent our Premiership trophy from going back to Manchester United, who pipped us by one point by beating Tottenham at Old Trafford.

Naturally enough there were no scenes of celebration afterwards, just a sustained round of applause from the Arsenal supporters. The players later came back for an end of season lap of honour.

At least we won this game and the outcome was rarely in doubt although our play looked tense at times, especially for a while after we learnt that Tottenham were leading in Manchester.

Arsene Wenger said afterwards: "I am proud of my players they are a great team and we lost the title by just one point. We have the best defensive record in Europe too and it feels like losing a marathon by a yard.

"The players are naturally very disappointed because they have done so well but have not won anything. It is hard to say where we lost it but it has to be at the beginning of the season because we were the best team from December.

"But we will be back and I would ideally like to make three new signings this summer and keep every other player here too. I think I can do that."

Not everything went our way at Highbury though. Wenger was forced into making a reshuffle in the 15th minute when Nelson Vivas limped off with an injury. Emmanuel Petit slotted in at left-back, Ray Parlour moved into the middle of midfield and Fredrik Ljungberg came on as a substitute on the right of midfield.

The changes disrupted what had been a very positive start to the game with Bergkamp shooting just a few inches wide after six minutes. Patrick Vieira produced a brilliant Michael Oakes save with his 29-yard drive two minutes later and the Villa keeper also denied Marc Overmars in a one-on-one situation.

As Arsenal began to gather momentum again Vieira had a header cleared off the line by Simon Grayson from a 21st minute Petit corner.

Then came the news from Old Trafford that Les Ferdinand had given Tottenham the lead against Manchester United and the noise and celebrations here were as if Arsenal had scored.

But that is still what they had to do and the danger was that the tension would spread from the supporters to the players.

Bergkamp kept his cool though and it took another goal-line clearance, by Gareth Southgate, to keep out his 35th minute free-kick.

The second half started in in similar fashion with Southgate clearing off the line from Vieira and Oakes making a great save from a goalbound Anelka shot.

That was Anelka's last contribution as he was replaced by Kanu in the 61st and the Nigerian striker finally broke the deadlock five minutes later.

After all of the spectacular attempts before the goal was rolled over the line from barely a yard out. Petit curled a corner in from the right and, after a very brief scramble, the ball dropped to Kanu who scored at the second attempt.

Big celebrations followed, but we all knew that Manchester United were winning by now and it would take a footballing miracle for them to throw away a lead against Tottenham.

In fact, we nearly threw away the lead against Villa when Paul Merson almost ruined his return to Highbury with a late equaliser. Thankfully, he shot wide to loud cheers of `Merson is a Gooner.'

But the fat lady was singing soon after.That's all folks.

Nick Callow

ARSENAL MAGAZINE
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