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The BBC's Ian Brown
"Leeds started well enough but fell"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 28 December, 1999, 16:52 GMT
Gunners see off Leeds boys

Ljungberg enjoyed his first half tap-in

Arsenal 2-0 Leeds

Arsenal's extra experience told as the young guns of Leeds were taught a lesson at Highbury.

The home side dominated possession and chances with Leeds only equal in the way their players incurred the disciplinary wrath of referee Graham Poll.

The return of Patrick Vieira in midfield after his lengthy spitting ban was significant, and he kept his head while others lost theirs.

But the surprise selections were in defence with veteran full-backs Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn dropped to the bench.

Centre-back Martin Keown was injured so Tony Adams lined up alongside Silvinho, Oleg Luzhny and Gilles Grimandi.

In the end it was Fredrik Ljungberg and Thierry Henry who got the goals in a performance far removed from Boxing Day's 3-2 defeat at Coventry.

Leeds' main contribution were bookings for hot-headed young forwards Alan Smith, Harry Kewell and Michael Bridges.

They were the better team - and good luck to them
David O'Leary
The trio tried to irritate Adams and co - a disruptive tactic which upset Chelsea and Frank Leboeuf so successfully 10 days ago.

But Arsenal's defenders refused to rise to the bait while Mr Poll tried to put a stop to their niggling fouls and arguing with his yellow card.

Bookings were also shown to home players who were not innocent in a fractious match.

Yet the feeling persisted that Arsenal's players were simply too streetwise for their young opponents.

Early chances

It started when Marc Overmars and Emmanual Petit were both denied by Nigel Martyn in the opening minutes.

Leeds enjoyed some early possession but they did not threaten until Bowyer's weak shot after beating the offside trap after 18 minutes.

Vieira marked his return with three first half misses while Kanu almost scored with one of his trademark backheel flicks.

When Bridges ran through on goal after appearing to flatten Grimandi, David Seaman and Silvinho denied the striker and Bowyer.

It was Leeds' last chance to take the lead, something Arsenal did within minutes when Ljungberg tapped in the opener.

Kanu turned Lucas Radebe brilliantly on the edge of the area, and Martyn failed to hold the Nigerian's shot.

Ljungberg pounced with glee and the home side were on their way.

Henry's second

Adams headed wide from a free kick when well-placed early in the second half with Leeds offering little in return.

And the Gunners gained what looked to be a stranglehold on the scoreline when the unfortunate Radebe was turned again, this time by Henry.

The Frenchman slipped around the South African and fired a low drive past Martyn.

Midway through the half David Seaman had to punch out a free kick under pressure, and Bridges fired wide late on.

But David O'Leary left his second half substitutions until there were just ten minutes remaining - far too late for a former title winner like Jason Wilcox to make an impact.

Kanu and substitute Davor Suker almost made it 3-0 before the end, but Highbury was delighted with a result which was essential to their club's title chances, and cuts Leeds' advantage over the Gunners to five points.


Arsenal: Seaman, Luzhny, Grimandi, Adams, Silvinho, Ljungberg, Vieira, Petit, Overmars, Kanu, Henry. Subs: Dixon, Winterburn, Suker, Manninger, Barrett.

Leeds: Martyn, Kelly, Radebe, Woodgate, Harte, Bakke, McPhail, Kewell, Bowyer, Bridges, Smith. Subs: Robinson, Wilcox, Mills, Jones, Duberry.

Referee: G Poll (Tring)

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Links to other FA Carling Premiership stories are at the foot of the page.