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Arsenal Vs Middlesbrough

Arsenal 4-1 Middlesbrough

FA Premiership, Highbury
Saturday, January 10, 2004. Kick-off: 3.00pm

REFEREE
  • A D'Urso

ATTENDANCE
  • 38,117

Arsenal
  • Jens Lehmann
  • Pascal Cygan
  • Sol Campbell
  • Ashley Cole
  • Robert Pires
  • Edu 67
  • Patrick Vieira
  • Fredrik Ljungberg
  • Ray Parlour 72
  • Lauren
  • Gilberto player got a red card
  • Jeremie Aliadiere
  • Nwankwo Kanu 45
  • Thierry Henry
SUBS NOT USED
  • Graham Stack
  • Martin Keown

Middlesbrough
  • Mark Schwarzer
  • Danny Mills
  • Gareth Southgate
  • Ugo Ehiogu
  • Chris Riggott 45
  • Franck Queudrue
  • Doriva player got a red card
  • Juninho 62
  • Stewart Downing
  • George Boateng
  • Boudewijn Zenden
  • Joseph-Desire Job
  • Massimo Maccarone 62
  • Szilard Nemeth
SUBS NOT USED
  • Bradley Jones
  • Stuart Parnaby
English Barclays Premiership Logo
Arsenal
4
Thierry Henry 38 (pen)
Robert Pires 57
Fredrik Ljungberg 68
Middlesbrough
1
Franck Queudrue 45 (o.g.)
Massimo Maccarone 86 (pen)




By Richard Clarke

Arsenal are top of the Premiership after a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Middlesbrough at Highbury.

Arsène Wenger's side needed to win by four goals to fully overtake leaders Manchester United on goal difference. That looked like happening until Boro substitute Massimo Maccarone grabbed a late consolation from the spot.

Now Arsenal are equal with Manchester United on points, goal difference and goals scored. They are top on alphabetical order.

Still, no matter, this was a fine performance and it was certainly a great way to begin a series of four games against Boro in 18 days.

Arsenal dominated the opening period and should have been ahead by the time Ugo Ehiogu tripped Patrick Vieira and Henry slammed home from the spot with seven minutes left.

Then, in the dying seconds of the half, Henry's goal-bound free-kick was diverted in by Franck Queudrue.

Thirteen minutes into the second period, Pires cracked home from close range after Gareth Southgate's poor clearance. Then Ljungberg grabbed a fourth - his 50th for the club in his 209th appearance.

Despite Maccarone's late strike it was still a good day all-round.

Arsenal began the game like they had something to prove after that 1-1 draw at Everton in midweek. Within 30 seconds of the kick-off, Vieira's low pass set Jeremie Aliadiere off in pursuit. The 20-year-old French striker outpaced his marker and aimed his shot at the near post. Boro keeper Mark Schwarzer must have expected him to go for the other side because he moved early. Fortunately, for the visitors, he managed to hack the ball away with his trailing foot.

Less than two minutes later, Ashley Cole burst up from left back and fed Henry inside the area. He took his time to pick his spot and his sidefoot effort towards the far post again fully extended Schwarzer. But the Australian stopper managed to tip it behind.

Arsenal continued to roar forward using the pace of Aliadiere - who had started up front in place of Kanu - with Henry working the angles just behind. The only other change from midweek was Lauren starting at right back in place of the injured Kolo Toure.

Despite Arsenal's dominance, it was Boro who went close next with a 25-yard pot-shot from Doriva that Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann palmed aside high to his right and then ran around to collect.

It was a shock. A shot across the bows even but it was Arsenal who continued to make the running.

Vieira found space in the D in the Boro area but his shot on the turn only hit Pires on its way out. The captain then found space 30 yards out on the half-hour but dragged his shot wide. Soon after Robert Pires sidefooted over the bar to culminate a flowing move.

They were illustrations that Arsenal were only lacking one piece of the jigsaw. Unfortunately it was the most important piece - the bit about sticking the ball in the net.

Then they got a helping hand. Pires fed an angled ball into the area and Vieira was tripped by the outstretched leg of Ehiogu. Henry slammed home the penalty with venom. It was his 13th goal in the Premiership and his 18th in all competitions.

The striker was now on fire. He nearly weaved his way to another five minutes before the break. He then hit a free-kick against the post despite Pires' attempts to divert the ball in.

With virtually the final kick of the half, Henry did find the net. His pacy, curling free-kick was heading toward the bottom corner but Quedrue intervened and, in trying to hack the ball away sliced the ball into his own net.

Both sides made changes at the break. Kanu came on for Aliadiere and Ehiogu was replaced by Chris Riggott.

It changed nothing. Arsenal still had the swagger of a side in control, Boro looked a little shell-shocked.

Pires grabbed a third to effectively kill the contest in the 57th minute. Henry clipped a ball over from the right and Southgate could only sidefoot the ball meekly towards the edge of the box. Pires, so often the man to follow-up when the ball runs loose in the area, fired low past Schwarzer. Game over.

Ljungberg grabbed his half-century of goals 11 minutes later. Kanu attempted to twist and turn his way through the Boro defence. He got stuck and so chose to use the escape route of Ljungberg on his right. The Swede stepped up and sent and angled, low shot across the face of goal and into the net off the woodwork.

It was an important goal as it pushed Arsenal above Manchester United on goal difference.

However, Massimo Maccarone's penalty altered that five minutes from time. Juninho's pass put him through and the Italian tumbled over Lehmann as he attempted to glide past.

It meant Arsenal lead the table on alphabetical terms only and Manchester United could overhaul them on Sunday.

But after such a controlled display, there was still much to be pleased about.


 


   MATCH PICTURES 


Henry strokes home our penaltyHenry celebrates our opening goal
Kanu bamboozles Southgate and RiggottPires congratulates Henry as his free-kick is deflected in
Pires finishes off a great move for 3-0Robert hails his strike
Nemeth shields from ColeLjungberg fires home number four




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