Arsenal 5 Wimbledon 0
Dazzling Arsenal surged into overdrive for the last lap of the Premiership
title race with a five-goal blitz of bogey side Wimbledon at Highbury to go back
to the top of the table for the first time since October.
Tony Adams, Mark Overmars and Dennis Bergkamp, with his 21st of the campaign,
all scored glorious goals in the first 20 minutes.
And marauding French midfielder Emmanuel Petit added his first goal for the
club nine minutes into the second half as Wimbledon, unbeaten in nine previous
visits, were torn apart.
Arsenal finished with five goals as substitute Christopher Wreh put Lee
Dixon's through pass over the head of goalkeeper Neil Sullivan and nodded it
cheekily into an empty net.
But Arsenal's star was teenage striker Nicolas Anelka, who had a sophisticated
foot in three goals and was given a standing ovation as he left the field 12
minutes from time to be replaced by Wreh.
The nap hand of goals equalised Arsenal's best win of the season but they
could have had a hatful. Remarkably, Wimbledon might have had several
Andy Clarke, making his first Premiership start of the season, hit the inside of
a post in the second half after chipping over goalkeeper David Seaman.
Michael Hughes and Neal Ardley had earlier both failed to finish easy chances
from close quarters.
But by then the Gunners were firing almost at will from the end of a series of
silky moves which flowed through the majestic Bergkamp, Petit and Patrick
There had already been a string of near misses before skipper Adams rose
beyond the far post to thump home a header from Petit's corner in the 12th
minute for only his second goal of the season.
And after that breakthrough the walls fell in on Wimbledon as Arsenal added
two more in the 17th and 20th minutes.
Petit's tackle set up Anelka for a purposeful run down the left and he clipped
the ball inside for Overmars, who had earlier missed badly from close range, to
drill just inside the far post.
Anelka had the fans gasping as he set up the next one. Teenager Matthew Upson,
replacing suspended Steve Bould with class and style in the centre of the
Arsenal defence, headed out Hughes' free-kick and Anelka took it on his chest
before turning away from a challenge and roaring 70 yards to the edge of the
Wimbledon box where he set up the supporting run of Bergkamp for a clinical
The rampage continued in the second half as Wimbledon chased shadows trying to
cut off Arsenal's scintillating collection of one-touch passes.
But the fourth goal came in amazing fashion as Seaman raced out of his area to
clear down the right with a mammoth kick which Bergkamp chased and then clipped
into the box where both Overmars and Anelka could have scored but touched the
ball on instead for Petit's maiden strike from eight yards.
Petit almost added another with a thundering 30-yarder that came off the
overworked Sullivan's chest and was walked into an empty net by Overmars, who
was given offside.
But the relentless bombardment continued even though Arsenal finished with 10
men when Petit, who has been picked for the French team in their World Cup
warm-up next week, hobbled off with a shin injury.
There was just time, though, for Anelka's substitute Wreh to add a cheeky
Lee Dixon's through ball found the little Liberian in a race for possession
with Sullivan and he neatly lobbed it over the goalkeeper's head before nodding
into an empty net.
The mighty roar which greeted the completion of the nap hand was only matched
seconds later by the news of Manchester United dropping points at home to
Arsenal: Seaman, Winterburn, Vieira (Platt 70), Adams,
Anelka (Wreh 76), Bergkamp, Overmars, Parlour, Petit,
Garde (Dixon 14), Upson.
Subs Not Used: Boa Morte, Lukic.
Goals: Adams 12, Overmars 17, Bergkamp 19, Petit 54, Wreh 88.
Wimbledon: Sullivan, Cunningham, Blackwell (McAllister 83),
Thatcher, C. Hughes (Cort 45), Roberts, Gayle, Perry, M. Hughes,
Ardley (Francis 75), Clarke.
Subs Not Used: Kimble, Heald.
Booked: M. Hughes.
Ref: P Jones (Loughborough).