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Sunday, 20 January, 2002, 17:56 GMT
Pires strike foils Leeds
The defensive partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Jonathan Woodgate was breached for the first time in three games
Ferdinand and Bergkamp challenge for the ball
Leeds United 1-1 Arsenal
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Leeds and Arsenal ultimately strengthened Manchester United's championship ambitions by cancelling each other out at Elland Road.

Robbie Fowler's headed goal after eight minutes gave Leeds an early advantage.

But Robert Pires scored a superb equaliser for Arsenal after Thierry Henry's inspired step-over created space for his French compatriot.

  Key moments
8 mins: Fowler scores for Leeds
45 mins: Pires equalises
The match was hampered as a spectacle by the blustery conditions - which made passing football difficult - and both teams squandered possession far too easily.

The second half was particularly poor - devoid of scoring chances as both sides seemed more inclined to avoid defeat than seize victory.

The result means Leeds remain third in the table and Arsenal - still unbeaten away from home in the Premiership - stay fourth.


I didn't think either team deserved to win
Leeds boss David O'Leary
Dennis Bergkamp should have opened the scoring for Arsenal after only two minutes.

But, having controlled Henry's sumptuous defence-splitting pass, the Dutch striker mis-kicked his shot from 10 yards and Nigel Martyn easily saved.

Leeds opened the scoring with their first meaningful attack.

Jason Wilcox skinned Oleg Luzhny and knocked a teasing cross from the left to the far post, where Fowler lurked unmarked.

The former Liverpool striker - back in the team after missing the defeat at Newcastle - duly defeated Richard Wright with an accurate header.

Arsenal moved forward with fluid elegance after conceding, but were repeatedly hamstrung by an absence of support from midfield.

Henry broke down the right after 23 minutes and skipped past Rio Ferdinand.


I think we showed the quality we need if we are going to win the championship
Arsenal defender Martin Keown
But, with Patrick Vieira for once supporting from midfield and well positioned for a cut-back, he blazed wastefully over.

Fowler almost doubled Leeds' advantage 10 minutes before the break but his snap-shot - after Martin Keown had scuffed a clearance - drifted narrowly wide.

Minutes earlier Mark Viduka and Keown clashed off the ball, with Leeds' Australian striker appearing to elbow the Gunners' defender.

But referee Mark Halsey did not take any action.

Moment of brilliance

As the game moved into first-half injury time Arsenal scored the game's final goal.

The goal hinged on a moment of pure inspiration by Henry, whose step-over from Bergkamp's relatively innocuous angled pass deceived the Leeds defence.

Arsenal's players celebrate Pires' goal
Arsenal's players celebrate Pires' goal
Pires latched on to the through ball and smashed the ball past Martyn with a fiercely struck left-footed shot from an acute angle.

The second half got off to a scrappy start and chances were at a premium.

Vieira headed over from a corner after 56 minutes.

The Frenchman was unmarked eight yards out, but the ball was slightly behind him when it arrived and he could not keep the header down.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst - on for the injured Freddie Ljungberg - almost broke the deadlock with a 20-yard shot that hit Mills and deflected inches wide with Martyn stranded on the wrong side of his goal.

But in truth the second half was extremely poor and neither side were worthy of winning the game.

Leeds pushed forward in the closing stages, Viduka and Bowyer both having efforts blocked by Arsenal's tenacious rearguard, but were unable to score a winner.


Leeds: Martyn, Mills, Woodgate, Ferdinand, Matteo, Bowyer, Johnson, Batty, Wilcox, Fowler, Viduka.
Subs Not Used: Robinson, Kelly, Harte, Keane, Kewell.
Booked: Johnson.

Arsenal: Wright, Luzhny (Dixon 81), Campbell, Keown, Cole, Parlour, Ljungberg (van Bronckhorst 66), Vieira, Pires, Bergkamp (Wiltord 70), Henry.
Subs Not Used: Stack, Upson.
Booked: Cole, Pires.

Attendance: 40,143

Referee: M Halsey (Welwyn Garden City).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Mike Ingham
"Windswept and not very interesting"
Leeds boss David O'Leary
"I thought it was a fair result"
Arsenal goalkeeper Richard Wright
"As a team we didn't lie down"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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