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The BBC's Ian Brown
"A very strong display from Arsenal"
 real 28k

Arsene Wenger
"We have shown great spirit and resilience"
 real 28k

Saturday, 15 January, 2000, 16:54 GMT
Gunners keep up the chase

Celebrations as Arsenal's "reserve" strikers hit form


Arsenal 4-1 Sunderland

Arsenal strengthened their title challenge, with a comfortable win which took them within a point of league leaders Leeds.

The Gunners are now level with second-placed Manchester United, although the defending champions now have three games in hand.

Thierry Henry and Davor Suker both scored twice, as Arsenal made light of the absence of the injured Dennis Bergkamp and African Cup of Nations performer Kanu.


Match facts
3 mins: Henry strikes as Sorensen fumbles
27: Suker delights Highbury with fantastic effort
31: Two strikers combine for Croatian to tap home
46: Quinn gives visitors second half hope
81: Henry makes absolutely sure
Niall Quinn got a consolation for visitors - his first goal at Highbury since leaving the north London club almost a decade ago.

Arsenal were already without Tony Adams when fellow defender Gilles Grimandi was lost to flu just before kick off.

Ukrainian Oleg Luzhny took his place in central defence and Stephen Hughes was called up to the bench.

Sunderland fielded former Gunners Niall Quinn, Stefan Schwarz and Steve Bould, who received a presentation from Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood before the game.


Gavin McCann and Emmanuel Petit
The 37-year-old was soon into action, as Freddie Ljungberg found Henry, who cut inside Bould's challenge.

The Frenchman had already had one weak shot saved by Thomas Sorensen in the opening 30 seconds, and the Dane should also have stopped this strike.

Sunderland's unfortunate keeper got both hands to it, but succeeded only in flicking it, volleyball-style, into the roof of the net.

Kevin Phillips then went very close with one long range effort, and Sunderland were very much in the game before the roof fell in on the visitors around the half-hour mark.



That was exceptional - a real Suker goal. For somebody to show that kind of reaction and score like that it can only be Suker
Arsene Wenger salutes the Croat's first
In the 27th minute Henry's pass found Suker on the edge of the box.

The Croat delivered an immaculate lob which sailed over Sorensen and into the net off the far post.

Four minutes later Suker scored a second after Henry's low pass from the byline left Sorensen stranded out of his goal.

Arsenal had lost the limping Ljungberg in between the two goals but Stefan Malz's arrival hardly disrupted their rhythm.

Before half time Henry was twice denied by marginal offside flags although Phillips remained a constant menace, with Vieira denying him with a last ditch tackle on the edge of the box.


Henry celebrates an early strike
Sunderland came out after the break in determined fashion, and promptly scored.

Arsenal could not clear a corner properly and when Gray put the ball back in the goalmouth a deflection off Malz left Quinn with the easy task of side footing home from just six yards.

The Gunners held firm, creating more chances of their own, including Lee Dixon's blocked shot.

Quinn caused more trouble in the Arsenal area, but from a resulting corner Henry was running at the Sunderland goal before Makin produced a saving tackle.



I think my players tried to show off because they were playing the Arsenal at Highbury and we got what we deserved. We gave away stupid, stupid goals. The third one was just a schoolboy error.
Peter Reid
The home side were unlucky not to add a fourth goal when Vieira headed against the post after 63 minutes, while Sorensen saved from Suker a minute later and Henry on 70 minutes.

But Arsenal wrapped it up with Henry's second goal nine minutes from the end.

Dixon's forward pass found the Frenchman with his back to goal but he manoeuvred it with his shoulder past Bould.

The veteran defender was left standing by a decisive burst into the box which opened the way for a cool finish past the helpless Sorensen.

Teams:

Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Keown, Silvinho, Luzhny, Parlour, Vieira, Petit, Ljungberg, Henry, Suker. Subs: Winterburn, Manninger, Malz, Barrett, Hughes.

Sunderland: Sorensen, Makin, Bould, Butler, Gray, Summerbee, McCann, Roy, Schwarz, Phillips, Quinn. Subs: Kilbane, Marriott, Rae, Craddock, Williams.

Referee: P Alcock (Halstead)

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