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Monday, 1 April, 2002, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Arsenal outclass Addicks
Arsenal striker Thierry Henry opens the scoring
Henry's strike set Arsenal on their way
Charlton 0-3 Arsenal
E-mail your reaction to Football Talk

Arsenal cruised back to the top of the Premiership with an emphatic win over Charlton at The Valley.

Three goals up by half-time courtesy of Thierry Henry's double strike and a Fredrik Ljungberg tap-in continued the Gunners' formidable form.

Arsene Wenger's side are now one point clear of Liverpool and two ahead of Manchester United with a game in hand over both.

  Key incidents
16 mins: Thierry Henry scores first goal in four games to give Arsenal the lead
21 mins: Fredrik Ljungberg adds Arsenal's second
25 mins: Henry slots home second

And the ease with which Arsenal disposed of Charlton - who had not lost a London derby this season - makes it difficult to dismiss Wenger's assertion that his team will win the championship.

The only event which will have tempered the leaders' victory was Ashley Cole limping off with what appears to be a recurrence of his knee ligament injury.

Unlike Arsenal's opponents on Saturday - Sunderland - the home side started brightly.

I am not looking at our rivals. We have things in our own hands
Arsene Wenger

And it was the Gunners who were left napping after 90 seconds when Jonatan Johansson beat the off-side trap and played the perfect cross for Jason Euell.

Yet the Charlton striker somehow failed to direct the ball on target with the goal at his mercy.

But it did not take long for Arsenal to cash in on Charlton's profligacy.

Sol Campbell's defensive clearance released Henry and the French striker beat Richard Rufus and Jorge Costa for pace to coolly slot home the opener.

Arsenal's Fredrik Ljungberg celebrates scoring
Ljungberg: Scorer of Arsenal's second

Ljungberg doubled the Gunners' lead five minutes later with a simple tap-in after excellent interplay between Henry and Dennis Bergkamp had set up the Swede.

Two goals in quick succession shattered Charlton who, in fairness, had battled well in the opening stages.

And when the Gunners' third arrived on 25 minutes, from Henry again, Alan Curbishley's side were already looking at damage limitation.

I think Arsenal will be very difficult to beat now
Alan Curbishley

A sweeping three-man move saw Ljungberg set Sylvain Wiltord away on the right.

Wiltord unselfishly picked out his compatriot Henry in the area and Arsenal's top-scorer made no mistake. After the interval Charlton, Curbishley's half-time talk ringing in their ears, took the game to Arsenal.

Mark Kinsella went close to pulling one back for the hosts. But the commanding Campbell deflected the goal-bound shot away.

Euell then tested David Seaman with a fiercely-struck shot on the turn.

Arsenal's Dennis Bergkamp
Bergkamp to the fore of Arsenal's attacks

And the same player almost executed an audacious lob with 11 minutes to go, but the England keeper was equal to it and tipped the ball over his crossbar for a corner.

But Charlton's attempts to reduce the deficit ultimately proved futile as Arsenal ran out worthy winners after yet another devastating first-half display.

Charlton: Kiely, Young, Rufus, Costa, Powell, Stuart, Parker, Kinsella, Robinson (Lisbie 65), Johansson, Euell.
Subs Not Used: Ilic, Bart-Williams, Konchesky, Fortune.
Booked: Robinson, Costa.

Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Cole (Luzhny 29), Keown, Campbell, Vieira, Grimandi, Ljungberg, Wiltord, Henry, Bergkamp (Edu 81).
Subs Not Used: Wright, Jeffers, Kanu. Booked: Luzhny, Vieira.

Att: 26,339

Referee: A D'Urso (Billericay).

BBC Sport's Nigel Adderley
"Charlton's status as derby specialists was left in tatters"
Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg
"It was very important to win today"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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