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Saturday, 13 October, 2001, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
Arsenal outclass Saints
Pires and Henry launch another attack
Pires scored with the first attack of the game
Southampton 0-2 Arsenal

Southampton's woes at their new ground continued as Arsenal won easily to move within a point of league leaders Leeds.

Arsenal controlled the game from the first attack, when Robert Pires gave them the lead, and Thierry Henry added a second towards the end.

  Key moments
5 mins: Pires gives Arsenal the lead
59 mins: Chris Marsden is sent off for a second booking
74 mins: Thierry Henry makes the points safe with a deflected shot

In between, Chris Marsden saw red when a lunge on Patrick Vieira resulted in a second yellow card.

It was an unfamiliar Arsenal defence - in fact, it was the first time in 16 years that the Gunners had started a game without any of the famous backline put together by George Graham.

With Seaman, Adams, Dixon, and Keown all out, Arsenal's entire XI were also aged under 30 for the first time in Arsene Wenger's tenure.

Rory Delap was ruled out for the Saints, but Kevin Davies, Anders Svensson and Tahar El Kalej passed fitness tests.


We are down to the bare bones regarding defenders but what was really disappointing was the amount of players who under-achieved
Southampton boss Stuart Gray

But the Saints failed to test the new-look Arsenal defence.

And a mistake by Claus Lundekvam after only five minutes gifted Arsenal the lead. Robert Pires caught him in possession and freed Thierry Henry.

The French striker fed strike partner Sylvain Wiltord who picked out Pires racing through to score.

Henry missed a glaring chance after 20 minutes when Wiltord's shot came back off an upright and fell straight to his feet.

Thierry Henry scored Arsenal's second goal
Henry got a deserved goal in the second half

Henry had time to control the ball but took it first time and shot wide of an open goal from six yards.

Arsenal were in total control but almost ceded the lead when a lack of concentration let in Marian Pahars.

The Latvian lifted his shot over Wright but the ball drifted wide of the Arsenal goal.

Chances came and went for Arsenal, and no one came closer to scoring than Freddie Ljungberg, who clipped the outside of Paul Jones' post with a shot from distance.

Arsenal made the points safe with 15 minutes to go. As long as the score remained at 1-0, there was always a chance that the Saints might be able to get a first point at their new ground.


It was an outstanding team performance and we were always in control but we were not clinical enough in front of goal
Arsene Wenger
But that hope receded 15 minutes into the second half when Chris Marsden, already on a booking, flew in two-footed on Patrick Vieira and the referee had no option but to show the Southampton player a second yellow card.

Henry tried his luck left-footed from 20 yards, and the luckless keeper Jones could only watch as the ball deflected off Stuart Ripley into the corner of the net.

Henry and Dennis Bergkamp could have added further goals late on and the home fans voiced their disapproval on the final whistle.



Southampton: Jones, El Khalej, Bridge, Monk, Lundekvam, Davies, Oakley, Svensson, Marsden, Beattie, Pahars. Subs: Moss, Tessem, Le Tissier, Dodd, Ripley.

Arsenal: Wright, Lauren, Cole, Campbell, Upson, Vieira, Ljungberg, van Bronckhorst, Henry, Wiltord, Pires. Subs: Taylor, Bergkamp, Parlour, Grimandi, Kanu.

Referee: G Barber (Tring).

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Ron Jones
"The only surprise was that the margin of victory was not greater"
Arsenal defender Matthew Upson
"We looked on our game today"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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