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Last Updated:  Saturday, 22 February, 2003, 16:52 GMT
Rampant Arsenal rout City
Arsenal duo Robert Pires and Thierry Henry
Pires and Henry tormented City
Man City 1-5 Arsenal

Arsenal strode emphatically towards retaining their Premiership title with an irresistible victory over Manchester City.

The Gunners gave Kevin Keegan's men a footballing masterclass, with Thierry Henry providing yet another breathtaking display in attack.

Arsenal's performance was so complete that it took them a mere 20 minutes to wrap up the win and extend their lead at the top of the table to five points.

What it means at the top
1 Arsenal played 28, points 60
2 Man Utd played 28, points 55

The result underlined the Londoners' superiority in the Premiership, standing a class above their closest rivals Manchester United, who laboured to a 1-1 draw with Bolton.

It mattered little to Arsenal that United had slipped up, for Arsene Wenger's side simply stepped up a gear to expose City's weak rearguard in the most brutal fashion.

Five-star Arsenal
4 mins: Bergkamp scores for Arsenal
12 mins: Pires adds second
15 mins: Henry piles on the misery
19 mins: On the head for Sol
53 mins: Vieira gets a fifth
87 mins: Anelka gets a consolation

First to find the net was Dennis Bergkamp, who ghosted past the hosts' defence to latch onto Lauren's pass and fire Arsenal into the lead from seven yards out.

The omens did not look good for City and when Henry eluded their defence, the outcome was as predictable as it was beautiful.

The ball moved swiftly from one Frenchman to another, and Robert Pires executed the perfect left-foot shot past Carlo Nash in the City goal.

If there was a certain inevitability about that attack, then few could have guessed that Martin Keown would provide the telling contribution for Arsenal's third three minutes later.

His 60-yard pass baffled the hapless Richard Dunne, and within the blink of an eye Henry had latched onto the ball, unleashing an wonderful left-foot strike.

When in this mood, Arsenal show no mercy. And it was to be no different at Maine Road.

Robert Pires and Sol Campbell celebrate another goal
Pires: "Let's have another Sol"

City were not given any time to regroup as the Gunners went in search of goals, goals, goals.

From a Henry corner, Sol Campbell powered in a header. No wonder Arsenal fans sang "we shall not be moved".

The following statistics tell the story.

Unbeaten in their last 16 games, at the top of the table before kick-off and 4-0 up by half time, Arsenal are in a league of their own.

City had to turn things around and fast, but the closest they came to that was changing ends at the interval.

That they restricted Arsenal to a solitary goal after the break - captain Patrick Vieira added his name to the scoresheet - deserves a mention.

So too does Nicolas Anelka's late consolation against his former employers.

But this game was only ever about one team - leaders Arsenal.


Man City: Nash, Dunne (Wright-Phillips 45), Howey, Sommeil, Jihai, Berkovic, Foe, Belmadi (Benarbia 65), Jensen, Fowler, Anelka.
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Horlock, Goater.

Arsenal: Taylor, Lauren, Keown, Campbell, van Bronckhorst, Wiltord (Jeffers 74), Silva, Vieira, Pires (Edu 74), Bergkamp (Parlour 64), Henry.
Subs Not Used: Cygan, Warmuz.

Attendance: 34,960.

Referee: P Durkin (Dorset).





Links to more Premiership stories


 

WATCH AND LISTEN
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"We did a very professional job"


Man City manager Kevin Keegan
"Our defending at times was suicidal"




MANCHESTER CITY

ARSENAL

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