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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 August, 2003, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Gunners thrash sorry Boro
Arsenal duo Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira
The Gunners were at their best
Middlesbrough 0-4 Arsenal

Arsenal turned on the style as they romped to a comfortable win over Middlesbrough.

Three goals in the opening 22 minutes sent Arsene Wenger's men on their way to a Sunday stroll at the Riverside Stadium.

Thierry Henry tapped in the opening goal inside five minutes, before spectacular efforts from Gilberto Silva and Sylvain Wiltord.

Boro managed to keep the score down in the second half, but Wiltord was still able to add a fourth for the visitors.

Before the game Middlesbrough paraded new loan signings Danny Mills and Gaizka Mendieta.

KEY MOMENTS
5 mins: Henry taps in the first goal
13 mins: Gilberto rams home the second
22 mins: Wiltord scores after some Henry brilliance
60 mins: Wiltord gets his second and Arsenal's fourth
Neither was eligible to play in the game, but like their new team-mates they sat back and watched as Arsenal ran riot in the opening 45 minutes.

It could have been so different had Boro forward Szilard Nemeth not drilled over the bar from a good position within 43 seconds of the start.

Less than five minutes later Arsenal were on their way.

Patrick Vieira won the ball inside the Boro half and released Freddie Ljungberg.

The Swede's shot was kept out by Mark Schwarzer but he could only push it into the direction of Henry who made no mistake from two yards out.

Arsenal doubled their lead in the 13th minute when Ashley Cole combined well with Pires down the left.

The Frenchman cut back inside before floating an inviting cross for the unmarked Silva to volley into the net.

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Sol Campbell should have made it three when he rose highest to meet a Pires cross head-on, but his thumping effort bounced the wrong side of the post.

But they did not have to wait long for the third and when it came it was vintage Arsenal.

The Gunners broke out of their own half and Pires' inch-perfect pass ran nicely into the path of a galloping Henry in full stride.

The Frenchman bore down on the Boro goal before teeing up Wiltord with a delightful pass that he clinically slotted home.

Henry could have added to the scoreline before half-time, flashing a shot past Schwarzer's right post and then glancing a header just wide.

Boro new boys Mills and Mendieta
Boro new boys Mills and Mendieta

The pace inevitably slowed after the break as Arsenal took their foot off the gas and the home side tightened things up.

Arsenal were still able to add a fourth when Campbell strode out of the defence and released Ljungberg.

He selflessly squared the ball for Wiltord to get his second of the game.

It was too much for some of the home fans who went home with 30 minutes left in the game.

Fortunately Middlesbrough's players kept going until the end and they almost grabbed a consolation, but Juninho's fine run and shot was brilliantly denied by a flying Jens Lehmann.

The only disappointment for Arsenal will have been that they failed to add a fifth, which would have seen them climb above Man Utd and out on their own at the top of the Premiership.


Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Riggott (Davies 66), Southgate, Cooper, Parnaby, Wright, Boateng, Doriva, Juninho Paulista, Nemeth (Downing 85), Christie.
Subs Not Used: Nash, Stockdale, Wilson.

Booked: Cooper.

Arsenal: Lehmann, Cole, Lauren, Campbell, Toure, Ljungberg (Parlour 74), Silva, Pires (Edu 74), Vieira, Wiltord (Bergkamp 74), Henry.
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Keown.

Attendance: 29,450

Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Five Live's John Murray
"This was the most comprehensive of victories"


Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"We found our game very early on"




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