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Sunday, May 3, 1998 Published at 21:06 GMT 22:06 UK



Sport: Football

Arsenal crowned Premiership champions

Arsenal have won the Premiership with two games to spare after an emphatic 4-0 victory over Everton at Highbury.

Everton defender Slaven Bilic gifted Arsenal their opener after just five minutes before Marc Overmars scored twice either side of half-time. Tony Adams wrapped up the points with a striker's goal just before the final whistle.


BBC Radio 5 Live's Mike Ingham describes the celebrations (4' 21")
The result leaves Everton in the bottom three of the Premiership, facing Coventry at Goodison Park next week. Bolton, who are the only team they can catch, travel to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea, four days before the Londoners' cup-winners cup final.

The Gunners showed no sign of any apparent nerves and started like prize greyhounds. Christopher Wreh brought a diving save from Thomas Myhre within two minutes.

The Gunners were ahead three minutes later with a goal that was claimed by their captain Adams, though TV replays showed it was Bilic who got the fatal touch.


[ image: Tony Adams celebrates Arsenal's opener]
Tony Adams celebrates Arsenal's opener
The goal came from a free kick on the right, floated in to the far post by Emmanuel Petit, and Adams, jumping with Bilic, did enough to force the Croatian into the error.

Arsenal tore into Everton as the half progressed. Patrick Viera and Petit were snuffing out any threat the Toffees could muster in midfield, and Wreh, Overmars, and Nicolas Anelka tormented their opponents.

Ian Wright was determined to join the party. Arsenal's record scorer was making his comeback on the subs' bench after a series of injuries which have kept him out since January.

He ran onto the touchline to warm-up after 20 minutes, bringing a huge roar from the capacity crowd.


[ image: Arsenal have won the title for the first time since 1991]
Arsenal have won the title for the first time since 1991
Arsenal went two up with a brilliant solo effort from Overmars after 28 minutes. Petit robbed John O'Kane, who then scythed him down, but not before the Frenchman had slipped the ball to Overmars. He sprinted at the retreating Everton defence, as referee Gerald Ashby played the advantage.

Arsenal's flying Dutchman stepped outside Dave Watson, picked his spot, and let fly. Myhre got a hand to the ball, but the power of the shot took it over the line.

Arsenal continued to dominate, attacking at will. Wreh and Viera wasted two chances each, and Ray Parlour brought an athletic save from Myhre with a firm downward header.

As half-time approached, Petit was the victim of a two-footed tackle by Don Hutchison and was taken off with a severe shin injury, to be replaced by David Platt.

Everton had created just one chance in the first half, a back header from Duncan Ferguson which Seaman saved comfortably.

Manager Howard Kendall showed his displeasure, taking off O'Kane, Bilic and Peter Beagrie at half-time and replaced them with Mickael Madar, Gareth Farrelly and John Oster.


[ image: Celebrating was the hardest work Seaman had all afternoon]
Celebrating was the hardest work Seaman had all afternoon
But they were powerless to stop Overmars putting Arsenal 3-0 ahead in the 57th minute. Again it was the Dutchman's pace which created the goal. He looked to have drifted wide as he sprinted goalwards, but he picked his spot with unerring accuracy and shot across Myhre into the far corner.

Wright made his entrance with 20 minutes to go, coming on for Anelka. With 10 minutes to go Arsene Wenger introduced Steve Bould into the fray, creating a remarkable soccer statistic.

When Arsenal won 2-0 at Anfield on the last day of the 1988-89 season to clinch the First Division championship, their back four was Adams, Bould, Dixon and Winterburn. Those same four players were on the pitch as Arsenal clinched the 1997-98 Premiership title.

Bould and Arsenal combined for Arsenal's fourth, Adams broke suddenly from defence, Bould lifted the ball over the top, and the Arsenal captain showed the composure of an international striker to chest the ball down and thump the ball past Myhre.

The goal was practically the last kick of the game, and Highbury erupted as Arsenal at last broke the northern domination of the Premiership.
 





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