By Richard Clarke
Arsenal moved three points clear at the top of the Premiership as they came from behind to win 2-1 at Manchester City on Sunday.
They fell behind in the 10th minute when Lauren put through his own net and, as a consequence, lacked some sparkle before the break. However Sylvain Wiltord scored from close range soon after the restart and Freddie Ljungberg did likewise midway through the half to maintain Arsenal's 100 per cent start to the new campaign.
So far it is four games, four wins - the club's best beginning to any League season since 1947-48.
The visitors had only one change for their first ever trip to the City of Manchester Stadium. Sol Campbell had a one-match ban after his dismissal against Everton on the opening day. Martin Keown came in at centre back with fit-again Pascal Cygan sitting on the bench.
For City, Seaman was facing Arsenal for the first time in 13 years. Another ex-Gunner, Nicolas Anelka, was up front. Wiltord was facing a familiar face as well. The Arsenal striker is godfather to the youngest daughter of City midfielder Antoine Sibierksi.
Just before the teams came out, news filtered around the stadium that Manchester United had lost 1-0 at Southampton.
Ten minutes into the game Arsenal were trailing by the same score. Lauren, with Sinclair in close pursuit, attempted to shepherd a hopeful ball back to Jens Lehmann. The right back's first touch was weak and, as the City midfielder came ever closer, he attempted to complete the job. However he miscued and shinned the ball into the corner of his own net.
The early blow knocked Arsenal out of their stride. Thierry Henry and Wiltord worked manoeuvres just outside the area but either the City backline held firm or they timed their runs wrongly and the assistant line flagged for offside. The home side had the trickery of Anelka or the guile of Shaun Wright-Phillips and they began to look better for their lead.
The Frenchman forced a fine one-handed stop from Lehmann eight minutes from the break.
Until this point, Arsenal's best effort was Henry's low volley that barely troubled Seaman. In the 40th minute they went two better. Henry uncharacteristically miscontrolled six yards after Ljungberg cross had sailed over Jihai Sun. Soon afterwards the Swede forced Seaman to tip over.
Within seconds of the restart, Keown's slip let in Sibierski but the Frenchman's cross was nodded away from Anelka but the stretching Kolo Toure.
It proved to an important intervention. In the 47th minute Pires laid a pass into Ashley Cole's path inside the City area. The left back lost control but slid in to challenge for it back. The ball fell nicely for Wiltord to tuck away his shot from close range.
The flow of the game changed immediately. Arsenal had their tails up and Ljungberg hooked over Pires' ball with the City defence appealing for offside.
City woke up in the 66th minute. Anelka threaded a fine pass from the right flank to Sibierski inside the area but the former Lens midfielder shot weakly at Lehmann. The German made a more telling contribution when the ball came back to Anelka seconds later, diving to his right to parry a fierce drive as the Arsenal defence looked for offside.
Pires hooked horribly over the bar in response but then played a crucial part as Arsenal took the lead. He raced onto Wiltord's chip and managed to toe-poke the ball against Seaman. The ball ran loose and bounced off Sun Jihai for Ljungberg to stab home from eight yards.
The scorer was substituted for Ray Parlour five minutes later. Wenger also swapped Wiltord for Dennis Bergkamp as he freshened the side for the expected City onslaught. Meanwhile, City boss Kevin Keegan brought on Robbie Fowler and Eyal Berkovic for exactly that reason.
In fact the closest they came was when Lauren smashed a clearance against Keown and the ball thumped the underside of the bar before bouncing clear. It would not have counted however, in the build-up the referee's assistant flagged for offside.
|Sylvain slams in a shot..||..it slips under Seaman..|
|..and in!||Freddie pokes at the ball from close range..|
|..and it's 2-1!||Freddie celebrates in front of the travelling fans|
|David has a few words with Thierry after the match||"No hard feelings!" Seaman chats with Ljungberg|
|Sylvain Wiltord pokes home our equaliser|
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|Freddie Ljungberg nets the winner|
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