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Arsenal v Spurs, 06.04.02

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 6TH APRIL, 2002
ARSENAL 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)

Arsenal scorers:-
Ljungberg, 24
Lauren (pen), 86

Spurs scorer:-
Sheringham (pen), 81

Referee:- Mark Halsey

Attendance:- 38,186

Teams:-
Arsenal (4-4-2):- Seaman; Lauren, Adams (Capt), Campbell, Luzhny; Wiltord (sub Dixon, 87), Vieira, Edu (sub Kanu, 83), Ljungberg; Bergkamp (sub Parlour, 72), Henry

Subs not used:- Wright; Keown

Booked:- Bergkamp (foul)

Spurs (4-4-2/3-5-2):- Keller; King (sub Davies, 46), Perry, Richards, Gardner; Anderton, Sherwood, Poyet, Ziege (sub Etherington, 77); Sheringham (Capt), Iversen (sub Rebrov, 53)

Subs not used:- Hirschfield; Thatcher

Booked:- Poyet, Sheringham, Sherwood, Perry

In the end, it was a tale of two penalties. Spurs reverted to 3-5-2 in the second half, and actually succeeded in taking the game to Arsenal, whereas they had defended too deeply in the first half, and let the home team dominate. Seaman was judged guilty of bringing down Poyet as he advanced on the 6 yard line, and when Teddy Sheringham converted with just 10 minutes to go, it looked like Spurs would succeed in scuppering Arsenal's title aspirations. However, referee Mark Halsey balanced things up (as radio Five commentator Trevor Brooking put it) by awarding a penalty when Henry went down under challenge in the box. Dean Richards and Henry needed treatment whilst Lauren sent Keller the wrong way, so I assume that Deano was the culprit. All that was needed was ten minutes of cool, calm defending, wasn't it?

Glenn Hoddle rang the changes from Monday's win over Leeds, and stuck with the successful 4-4-2. However, perhaps Ledley King was not fully fit, but he did seem to struggle on the right (defensive) flank, and was turned too easily, or left floundering by the likes of Henry, Luzhny, or Ljungberg, each of whom took up attacking station in that area. Darren Anderton played on the right, but Spurs hardly got out of their own half, and when Anderton did receive the ball, he did not try to round the defender as he would a few years ago, and sadly too often gave the ball away. Spurs looked better balanced, and more of a threat when Davies played right wing back and Anderton moved to the middle in the second half.

Henry had an early free kick charged down by Sheringham, and a Ziege long kick from the right floated across the area, before Gus Poyet brought the first save of the game out of Seaman, diving comfortably to his right to collect Gus's 20 yard effort. A Perry mix up on the right let Ljungberg advance upon Keller's right hand post, but Perry recovered, and with Keller, smothered the Swede's effort, conceding a corner. Luzhny then got to the bye line passing Ledley, before cutting the ball back to Bergkamp, who teed up Henry for a shot that went well wide of the left post.

Spurs first structured attack came from Sheringham and Poyet, feeding Iversen, who was adjudged offside, although Seaman felt the need to save in a one on one situation. At last, Spurs did start to defend in the Arsenal half, and this strategy paid off, as Ziege got forward and put a decent cross in, which at least gave Campbell and Adams something to think about. (I shall leave it to others to elaborate on the various new abusive chants that Campbell faced - most of which were based on his alleged sexual orientation).

Arsenal took a predictable lead after 24 minutes. Twice, Bergkamp set up Ljungberg with neat passes inside a defender, and twice Keller saved from Ljungberg. Unfortunately, the second save was not a strong enough touch, and the ball crept inside Kasey's left post. On the half hour, Ledley left Bergkamp too much space on the left, and Bergkamp's curler went beyond the far post. After 38 minutes Teddy Sheringham collected an Iversen flick on in the 6 yard box, and scooped his shot over the bar. The fact that the linesman had his flag up for offside does not make Sheringham's miss acceptable.

Spurs competed better in the second half, and Rebrov got on fairly early, as Iversen failed to run off a knock he got late in the first half. Davies saw plenty of the ball, and combined several times with team mates, but there was still fairly little for Spurs to show as far as end results go. Perry fell over allowing Ljungberg to put a low cross in front of Henry and Bergkamp, but luckily neither took up the tempting offer.

Spurs won their first corner after 55 minutes. This was taken by Ziege, and under threat from Sheringham, I swear that Seaman carried the ball over the line. Referee Halsey looked at his linesman for guidance, of which there was none, and simply waved play on. Surely, he had to give either a free kick against the Spurs man, or a goal for Spurs?! The TV replay will be interesting tonight. Another weird decision by the referee had been in the first half, when he had been only too willing to dish out cards for Spurs, whereas Lauren seemed to get away scot free with the worst challenge of the match upon Gardner.

Spurs succeeded in keeping the Arsenal attack at bay for the most part, but an Anderton gift led to a shot from Luzhny, which Keller saved well. Matthew Etherington replaced Ziege, and it was his effort with that of Sergei Rebrov that led to Gus Poyet advancing upon Seaman in his box. Seaman put his body across Gus, and Mr Halsey eventually made it clear he was giving a penalty, although he did not otherwise penalise the keeper, who had no-one behind him. Teddy made no mistake, and the Spurs crowd were ecstatic, thinking that Arsenal's title challenge might be on the rocks.

All too soon though, Henry was down in the other area, and whilst again, it was not clear that the referee had given the penalty immediately, Lauren stepped up and sent Keller to his left - the wrong way. Arsenal held on to the lead, and it was a sickening sight at the end of the game for Spurs fans to see the triumvirate of Campbell, Adams and Seaman hugging each other as they left the pitch.

Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here
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