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Battling Arsenal beat Newcastle

September 27, 2003 15:25 IST

Arsenal ended a bad week on a high when they produced a battling performance to beat Newcastle United 3-2 in a lively premier league game at Highbury on Friday.

Two days after they had six players charged with improper conduct following last Sunday's goalless draw with Manchester United, Arsenal stretched their lead at the top of the standings to four points.

In a game mercifully free from indiscipline, Arsenal led twice and were pegged back twice before Thierry Henry won it with his second goal of the game, a calmly dinked penalty 10 minutes from time.

The win takes Arsenal to 17 points from seven games. Chelsea, home to Aston Villa on Saturday, have 13 from five with Manchester United on 13 from six ahead of their visit to Leicester City.

Newcastle remain second last in the standings on three points and still without a win after six games.

The return to action must have come as a relief to Arsenal after a week where all the focus was on their unruly behaviour at Old Trafford.

They were on the attack from the start and went ahead in the 18th minute when Newcastle defender Titus Bramble's wild attempt to clear a Lauren cross succeeded only in slicing the ball into the path of Henry, who scored easily from close range.

However, in their first attack of the match, Newcastle equalised eight minutes later when Kieron Dyer crossed low for Laurent Robert to slide in his first goal of the season.


The goal took the steam out of Arsenal, who lost Patrick Vieira to injury and did not threaten again until five minutes into the second half when Freddie Ljungberg curled a shot against a post.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger introduced French midfielder Robert Pires after 62 minutes and his free kick five minutes later was "headed" in by Gilberto, the ball actually flying in off the Brazilian's shoulder.

Newcastle showed no signs of fatigue only 48 hours after their 5-0 thrashing of NAC Breda 5-0 in the UEFA Cup and again hit back within minutes, Dyer sliding a perfect ball into the path of Olivier Bernard who crashed a shot beyond Jens Lehmann.

Arsenal, effectively playing with 10 men due to a heavily limping Ljungberg, finally clinched it 10 minutes from time when Jermaine Jenas handled a Pires corner and Henry clipped in the penalty.

"Even if nothing had happened during the week, we would have wanted to win this game," Henry told Sky Sports TV.

"We deserved to go ahead, but once again put ourselves in a bit of trouble.

"We were playing with 10 really for the last 20 minutes but still got something out of the game."

Henry said he was not trying to be "cheeky" with his cool penalty. "I just felt that's what I had to do," said the Frenchman, who missed his last spot kick."

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