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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 August, 2003, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Gunners deny Man City
Man City striker Niclas Anelka runs clear of the grounded Freddy Ljungberg
Anelka hurdles Ljungberg, but the Swede had the last laugh

Man City 1-2 Arsenal

Freddy Ljungberg's 72nd-minute winner consolidated Arsenal's early lead at the top of the Premiership as they came from behind to deny Manchester City a first win in their new home.

Second-half strikes from Sylvain Wiltord and Ljungberg secured victory for the Gunners and spared the blushes of team-mate Lauren, who appeared to have gift-wrapped City the house-warming present of a first win in their new stadium.

Lauren handed the home side a remarkable early lead with a bizarre own goal inside 10 minutes.

The Cameroon international looked under little pressure as he chased down a hopeful punt forward by Michael Tarnat, with Trevor Sinclair closing in.

But Lauren's first touch was unconvincing and his second unbelievable as he shinned the ball past his own goalkeeper Jens Lehman with the considerable help of a nudge from the grateful Sinclair.

Kevin Keegan's side were well worth their first-half lead in a lively first-half which saw Arsenal struggle to come to life.

KEY MOMENTS
10 mins: Lauren unbelievably pokes into his own net
49 mins: Wiltord turns home Cole's low cross
72 mins: Ljungberg turns home Arsenal's winner.
Former Arsenal striker Niclas Anelka was clearly keen to impress against his old team-mates and while he threatened with two first-time strikes that flew straight at Lehman, Arsenal had to wait 40 minutes for their first real chance.

When it came, it fell invitingly at he feet of Thierry Henry, but the striker surprisingly failed to continue his run of scoring in every game this season as his first touch let him down.

But the unconvincing defending that gave Henry his chance was a glimpse of the second-half uncertainty to come.

Three minutes into the second period, Ashley Cole took advantage of Sylvain Distin's hesitance to slip a low ball across for Wiltord to slide home.

And Arsenal's growing presence in the game coincided with Cole's ability to step into the increasingly evident gaps on City's right flank.

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Cole's teasing cross set Robert Pires up for an acrobatic effort, but the Frenchman's finish was wild and way off target.

But Pires made his presence count for Arsenal's winner 18 minutes from time as the Gunners remained unbeaten in 13 Premiership outings against City.

Henry dispossessed substitute Danny Tiatto and allowed Lungberg to seek out Pires with a pass that dropped between Sun Jihai and Seaman.

The Chinese defender stood still and Seaman was unconvincing in his dive at Pires' feet, allowing the ball to roll into the path of a grateful Ljungberg.

The Swede's simple finish was followed by an extravagent celebration in the arms of the Arsenal fans which earned him a booking.

But that would hardly have dampened the spirit of the visitors, whose best start for more than 50 seasons took them three points clear at the top.


Manchester City: Seaman, Jihai, Sommeil, Distin, Tarnat, Wright-Phillips, Bosvelt, Barton, Sinclair, Sibierski, Anelka. Subs: Weaver, Berkovic, Fowler, Dunne, Tiatto.

Arsenal: Lehmann, Lauren, Keown, Toure, Cole, Ljungberg, Vieira, Silva, Pires, Henry, Wiltord. Subs: Bergkamp, Taylor, Parlour, Edu, Cygan.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire)




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