Arsenal 5 Barnsley 0
Dennis Bergkamp continued his campaign to sew up the Footballer of the Year
trophy by Christmas as the Gunners slaughtered Barnsley's Premiership
The non-flying Dutchman's brilliant displays in the opening weeks of the
season have already brought him two player-of-the-month awards and an astonishing goal of the month 1-2-3.
He must be favourite to claim the October prizes as well if he continues with
the sort of football that simply destroyed Danny Wilson's naive battlers.
Barnsley had not visited Highbury since 1915 and they must fear they will not
be back for another 82 years, after being eaten alive by Wenger's table-toppers,
as their goals-against tally reached 28 in just 10 games.
The Tykes, quite simply, did not know what to do as former Inter Milan ace
Bergkamp tortured them with another breathtaking display of goal-taking and
goal-making, and Arsenal, without hitting the heights, ran them ragged.
Bergkamp took ruthless advantage of Barnsley's woes, showing little mercy as
he put them to the sword - and on course for a sixth straight league defeat -
with a glorious first-half double that consigned their midweek UEFA Cup exit to
the pages of history.
The Dutch master then turned provider for Ray Parlour to sidefoot into the
empty net in first-half injury time.
After that, it was a question of how interested the Gunners were in boosting
their goal difference tally, because the gulf in quality was almost
David Platt celebrated his entry from the bench with his first goal of the
season just after the hour, and with 15 minutes left Ian Wright completed the
rout by taking his Gunners' total to 183.
It was all too easy, much as Wilson must have feared after the way Bergkamp
had destroyed his team in a Coca-Cola Cup meeting two years ago.
Yet for 25 minutes, as Arsenal slumbered, the visitors had looked relatively
secure - and nearly had the temerity to take the lead when Arjan De Zeeuw met
Neil Thompson's free kick with a header parried by the diving David Seaman.
That, however, was their biggest mistake of the day, because it woke the
Gunners from their torpor, with ice-man Bergkamp leading the way.
As Nigel Winterburn made ground up the left, Bergkamp was alive to the
opportunity, drifting off Adrian Moses 25 yards from goal.
Even then, the Dutchman had little more than a couple of yards to aim up, but
these days that is as good as an open goal, and so it proved, Bergkamp taking
one touch and then drilling a right-footer round Dave Watson and into the top
At Wimbledon last month, the first goal had opened the Barnsley floodgates,
and history repeated itself as the South Yorkshiremen caved in.
Bergkamp's second - his 11th of the season and 10th in the Premiership - came
just seven minutes later, as Barnsley were surgically cut open by Patrick
De Zeeuw and sweeper Eric Tinkler tried to converge, but Bergkamp had too much
pace and scorched between them, before arrogantly flicking past Watson with the
outside of his right foot.
By now it was a turkey shoot, with Barnsley static and immobile targets, and
the only surprise was that the third was delayed as long as injury time.
Parlour, played through by Steve Bould, hit the post, with Wright somehow
contriving to turn the rebound over the bar.
But the next goal did come two minutes into added time, Vieira and Bergkamp
combining again and the Dutchman slipping to his right as Watson raced out,
leaving Parlour with the whole goal to aim at.
Barnsley were upset at the linesman, confronting him at the break, but they
have been exposed so often this season that they have to look at themselves.
It was a question of how many Arsenal would get, Wenger's nonchalance
underlined when he sent on Platt and Nicolas Anelka for Parlour and Marc
Overmars before the hours.
For the Gunners it was cruise control, for Barnsley damage limitation,
although Platt took advantage of a free header from Emmanuel Petit's 63rd-minute
Wright completed the easiest of wins when De Zeeuw stumbled over Winterburn's
over-hit pass, running into the box to slot his ninth of the season past the
Barnsley were denied even the satisfaction of a consolation when Ashley Ward
blazed over late on, but they would not have deserved even that.
Arsenal, without even trying, were in a different league - and surely will be literally this time next year.
Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Vieira, Bould, Adams,
Wright (Boa Morte 79), Bergkamp, Overmars (Anelka 58),
Parlour (Platt 58), Petit.
Subs Not Used: Manninger, Grimandi.
Goals: Bergkamp 25, 32, Parlour 45, Platt 63, Wright 76.
Barnsley: Watson, Sheridan (Bullock 58), Moses (Eaden 64),
De Zeeuw, Redfearn, Thompson, Liddell (Hristov 67), Tinkler,
Krizan, Barnard, Ward.
Subs Not Used: Marcelle, Leese.
Booked: De Zeeuw, Thompson.
Ref: P Jones (Loughborough).