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Saturday, 9 November, 2002, 16:54 GMT
Arsenal ease past Newcastle
Arsenal striker Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry celebrates Sylvain Wiltord's winner
Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle

Arsenal were almost back to their confident, fluent best as they saw off Newcastle at Highbury.

A first-half goal from Sylvain Wiltord proved the difference between the teams, but the Gunners always looked in control and wasted several excellent chances.

The victory, coupled with Liverpool's surprise defeat at Middlesbrough, meant an excellent afternoon for the Gunners, who are now just a point behind the Premiership leaders.


Two weeks ago our confidence was low and it is difficult to bounce back, but we are doing it
Arsene Wenger,
Arsenal manager
Arsenal went into the game having lost their three previous home matches, yet they still looked confident.

Newcastle boss Bobby Robson chose to play five men in midfield and his side struggled to get numbers forward in support of lone striker Alan Shearer.

Dennis Bergkamp went close after 20 minutes when he rattled the Newcastle woodwork with one of his trademark right-footed curlers.

Wiltord gave the Gunners the lead their pressure warranted minutes later.

  Key incidents
3 mins: Dennis Bergkamp rattles the Newcastle bar with a right-footed curler.
24 mins: Sylvain Wiltord puts Arsenal ahead from close range.
31 mins: Freddie Ljungberg scrapes the top of the Newcastle crossbar.
The goal was classic Arsenal.

Ashley Cole was hemmed in near the corner flag but still managed to pass to Ljungberg.

The ball was then worked on to Thierry Henry, who sped forward and fed Oleg Luzhny.

The full-back squared from the right flank for Wiltord to slot home from close range.

And Ljungberg should have doubled Arsenal's lead after half-an-hour.


Arsenal have this power and pace which makes you feel glad to get out of it without being massacred
Sir Bobby Robson,
Newcastle boss
He was played clear of Newcastle's defence by Patrick Vieira and elected to chip goalkeeper Shay Given.

His delicate effort grazed the crossbar but the Swede should have done better.

Hugo Viana, who was on the back foot for much of the game as the Arsenal midfield dominated, had Newcastle's best chance when he struck the crossbar with a 25-yard shot near the break.

Arsenal continued to control the game in the secondhalf, yet they failed to get the second goal that would have allowed them to relax.

Their best chance came when Wiltord fired across the face of goal with Henry just inches away from connecting.


Arsenal: Seaman, Luzhny, Cygan, Campbell, Cole, Ljungberg,
Vieira, Silva, Wiltord (Edu 90), Bergkamp (Pires 70), Henry. Subs Not Used: Taylor, Stepanovs, Toure.

Newcastle: Given, Griffin, Dabizas, O'Brien, Hughes, Solano (Ameobi 71), Jenas, Speed, Viana (Bernard 71), Shearer, Dyer.
Subs Not Used: Harper, LuaLua, Caldwell.

Booked: Griffin, Viana.

Attendance: 38,121

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Ian Dennis
"Vieira was part of a wonderful display"
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"We always looked very solid"
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