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18 October 2003. Arsenal v Chelsea

by Tony Attwood

I think by 18 October 2003 we knew this could be a rather special season, not least because we beat Chelsea, and because we went to the top of the league.

And although we all love to see dramatic wonderful curlers from a forward after running the whole length of the pitch, sometimes a mistake by your rivals’ keeper gives just as much fun.  Robert Pires imperial as ever, put a pass across from the right into the area.

Carlo Cudicini in the Chelsea goal went for a run to get the ball, let it slip through his fingers so that the ball hit the knee of T. Henry, and it eventually entered the net.  Oh what fun.

From as early as the eighth minute it was obvious that only something out of the ordinary would separate these sides. Edu’s deflected free-kick put Arsenal in front after only three minutes after his free kick hit Parlour and went in but Hernan Crespo replied with a cracking curler from 25 yards three minutes later.

We must remember that this was Chelsea’s first season in the Permiership, and no one really expected them to win the league, so as Arsenal increasingly took control and by the second half it seemed business as usual.  By the end of the game Arsenal were the only unbeaten team in the league.

One little point that we might otherwise forget was that Parlour was captain.  And Arsenal were suffering injuries.  Dennis Bergkamp came back for this game as a sub, but Freddie Ljungberg was still out injured as was Martin Keown and Stuart Taylor.  Vieira was suspended.

    Pd   W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 9   7 2 0 18 7 +11 23
2 Manchester United 9   7 1 1 17 3 +14 22
3 Chelsea 9   6 2 1 19 9 +10 20
4 Manchester City 9   4 3 2 20 11 +9 15
5 Fulham 8   4 3 1 15 9 +6 15
6 Birmingham City 8   4 3 1 8 5 +3 15
7 Southampton 8   3 3 2 8 5 +3 12
8 Portsmouth 9   3 3 3 11 9 +2 12
9 Liverpool 9   3 2 4 12 10 +2 11
10 Charlton Athletic 8   3 2 3 12 12 0 11

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