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Saturday, 2 February, 2002, 16:59 GMT
Saints taint Arsenal record
Wiltord, Pires and Henry celebrate Wiltord's record-breaking opening goal
A trio of French musketeers celebrate Wiltord's goal
E-mail your reaction to Football Talk

Jo Tessem's late equaliser for Southampton took the gloss off Sylvain Wiltord's first-half goal which created a new Premiership goalscoring record for Arsenal.

Wiltord's 40th-minute goal not only maintained Arsenal's record of scoring in every Premiership match this season, but saw them set a new record of scoring in 26 consecutive top-flight games.

The French striker was left with time to bury a shot from five yards after Dennis Bergkamp knocked down Thierry Henry's cross.

But Tessem popped up 10 minutes from time to deny Arsenal all three points and knock their title aspiration off course.

  Title of factbox here
20mins: Paul Jones saves from Thierry Henry.
40mins: Sylvain Wiltord fires Arsenal ahead, 1-0.
50mins: Henry misses good chance to put Arsenal two up.
80mins: Jo Tessem equalises, 1-1.

Arsenal only occasionally sparked into top gear, and lost Patrick Vieira half-way through the first-half through injury.

The Gunners made a slick start, with Henry crossing for Wiltord in the opening minute, only for Paul Williams to come to Saints rescue with a swift challenge.

Another silky-smooth move ended with Wiltord picking out Robert Pires at the far post, but the Frenchman showed an uncharacteristic lack of composure in slicing his close-range shot wide.

Henry wasted a good opportunity on 20 minutes when he eluded Claus Lundekvam, only to fire his shot against keeper Paul Jones' legs.

We did lack the spark and physical edge - we have played quite a lot in the past two weeks
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Saints substitute Matt Le Tissier made an early impact while not even on the pitch. He was yellow-carded by referee Clive Wilkes while warming up, for questioning a free-kick.

Arsenal were forced to make a substitution on 28 minutes when Vieira limped off to be replaced by Gio van Bronckhorst.

Southampton offered little as an attacking force, but Lundekvam's near-post flick-on caused alarms in the Arsenal defence before keeper Richard Wright took command of the situation.

Southampton's Kevin Davies tackles Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole is tackled by Southampton's Kevin Davies

Henry was instrumental in most of Arsenal's attacking play and he provided the key that unlocked Southampton's stubborn resistance five minutes before half-time.

His beautifully flighted ball to the far post was knocked down by Bergkamp, leaving Sylvain Wiltord with the task of lashing the ball home from five yards to set the new Premiership record.

If any team including the top sides come here and get a draw it's a good point as Arsenal have world-class players
Southampton boss Gordon Strachan

Henry came close to doubling Arsenal's lead at the start of the second-half, when he latched on to Pires' delightful pass and grazed the top of Jones' bar with his shot.

It was not a vintage Arsenal performance, but they opened Southampton up on 65 minutes with some sumptuous football, but again Jones came to the Saints rescue as he spread himself to save from Henry.

Arsenal's wastefulness gave a dogged and persistent Southampton hope and Paul Telfer provided a warning by hammering a shot just over from 20 yards.

That warning was not heeded and ten minutes from time substitute Jo Tessem headed Southampton level from a training-ground set-piece routine.

Arsenal: Wright, Luzhny, Campbell, Upson, Cole (Grimandi 52), Pires, Vieira (van Bronckhorst 27), Parlour, Wiltord, Henry, Bergkamp (Edu 71).

Subs not used: Dixon, Stack.

Booked: Edu, Henry.

Goals: Wiltord 40.

Southampton: Jones, Dodd, Bridge, Lundekvam, Williams, Marsden, Oakley (Fernandes 75), Svensson, Telfer, Davies (Tessem 67), Pahars.

Subs not used: Le Tissier, Moss, Monk.

Booked: Le Tissier, Davies, Dodd.

Goals: Tessem 80.

Attendance: 38,024

Referee: C Wilkes (Gloucester).

BBC Sport's Ian Brown
"Arsenal became increasingly unconvincing"
Southampton's Jo Tessem
"It's always good to score goals"
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"We had many chances"
See also:

02 Feb 02 |  Eng Prem
Gregory off to flying start
02 Feb 02 |  Europe
Lazio deny Eriksson offer
02 Feb 02 |  Arsenal
Pires to end career at Arsenal
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