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Saturday, 2 March, 2002, 19:28 GMT
Arsenal stun Newcastle
Sol Campbell celebrates Arsenal's second goal
Newcastle United 0-2 Arsenal

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Arsenal cast an ominous shadow over the Premiership race as they dented the hopes of title rivals Newcastle United at St James' Park.

Arsene Wenger's side sounded a warning to leaders Manchester United and delivered a damaging psychological blow to Newcastle with another virtuoso performance.

And no-one typified Arsenal's excellence more than Dennis Bergkamp, who added to his catalogue of classic strikes with an early goal that set up the victory.

Sol Campbell - outstanding at the back - took time out from defensive duties to head a second before half-time to effectively sink Newcastle.


It's important to know we can score goals without Thierry Henry
Arsene Wenger

Arsenal never looked like sacrificing their impressive unbeaten away record in the league after that as Newcastle battled in vain to shake their composure.

Newcastle will regard the defeat as disappointing but not deadly to their championship ambitions - and will see the midweek encounter at Liverpool as the perfect chance to bounce back.

Arsenal, however, gave a performance of all-round quality and resilience that will send confidence levels surging inside Highbury as they stay on course in the Champions League, FA Cup and Premiership

Newcastle will get an immediate chance of revenge in the FA Cup next week, but Arsenal will be on a high after this display.

Campbell dances in delight after scoring
Newcastle and Arsenal were both desperate for victory to maintain their title momentum - but both were robbed of influential strikers.

Newcastle's Craig Bellamy started what threatens to be a lengthy absence with knee trouble, while Arsenal were without Thierry Henry because of an abdominal injury.

Robson's side opened in predictably frenetic fashion urged on by the Toon Army - but Bergkamp silenced St James' Park with a moment of sublime brilliance after 11 minutes

Patrick Viera won the ball to set up Pires, and Bergkamp provided the finish the approach play deserved by demonstrating a ballet dancer's grace to pirouette past Nikos Dabizas before beating Shay Given.


They were fortunate to go in two up but in the second half they were very clever
Bobby Robson

Newcastle's attacking play was vibrant, but they lacked a cutting edge without Bellamy and David Seaman was well protected.

Arsenal were grateful for the bravery of Lee Dixon on the half-hour when he blocked Laurent Robert after Seaman could only parry Nolberto Solano's long-range drive.

Seaman was immediately spared further embarrassment when he failed to deal with Gary Speed's header, only for Dabizas to lash a wild finish off target.

Arsenal, for all Newcastle's possession, remained an ever-present attacking threat and it was no surprise when they doubled their advantage five minutes before the interval.

Bergkamp turned creator with a dangerous free-kick which Campbell made his inside the penalty area to power a header past Given.

David Seaman clears in a packed area
Arsenal were attacking with breathtaking pace and variety on the break and Lauren should have done better than fire wastefully into the side-netting after another brilliant Bergkamp creation.

Newcastle talisman Alan Shearer had been kept at arm's length, but he broke the shackles after 56 minutes, only to see his low header brilliantly saved by former England colleague Seaman.

It was a rare moment of danger for Arsenal as they cruised confidently to victory.


Newcastle: Given, Hughes, Distin, O'Brien, Dabizas, Solano, Jenas, Speed, Robert, Ameobi, Shearer. Subs: Elliott, Acuna, Harper, Cort, Lua-Lua.

Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Stepanovs, Campbell, Luzhny, Lauren, Vieira, Grimandi, Pires, Bergkamp, Wiltord. Subs: Edu, Wright, Kanu, Aliadiere, Halls.

Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe)

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Alan Green
"Newcastle had a lot of possession but created little"
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"Once again we showed strength and determination"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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