On this day in 1998 the second double was completed. And there was a big shock in the team for without Bergkamp, Arsenal played Christopher Wreh as centre forward rather than Ian Wright. Wreh had scored the only goal of the semi-final against Wolverhampton in the semi-final.
But it could so easily have been otherwise as way back in the third round Arsenal were at home to Port Vale and sent out the team of
Grimandi Keown Bould Winterburn
Parlour Vieira Petit Overmars
Not much wrong with that team. Not taking the FA Cup too lightly eh?
The problem was we drew 0-0 at Highbury. Still the replay would be fine – except that we drew that too, 1-1 in extra time. We won on penalties.
In fact the FA Cup did give us some problems that season. We had another 0-0 at home in the fifth round with Crystal Palace, and against West Ham in the sixth we once again had to go to penalties.
But it all turned out right in the end.
Christopher Wreh partnered Anelka up front with Overmars and Parlour on either side, and with Newcastle playing the long ball game, that rather played into Arsenal’s hands, with the by now very solid standard Wenger defence.
Arsenal’s opening chance started with the back four who moved the ball to Vieira who passed to Parlour who then passed to Dixon breaking forward. Parlour was now in the Newcastle area, where he received the ball and gave it to Anelka. It didn’t lead to a goal but it was the essence of Arsenal’s play through the game, and something for which the opposition had no answer.
Overmars scored the first goal of the final – his 16th goal of what was his most prolific season in his entire career while Newcastle clearly thought that their best chance of getting anything was to appeal to the referee for a penalty any time that Tony Adams touched the ball.
They did have more shots in the second half and Shearer did hit the post but the game was really over in the 69th minute when Anelka scored the second. Parlour lobbed the ball through to Anelka who took it on his chest, ran forward at a speed that left the Newcastle defence wondering what was going on, and then scored.
Parlour nearly got a third and won the man of the match award. As the final whistle blew Wenger and Pat Rice hugged each other, knowing that they were now eternally in the Arsenal record books, having achieved the club’s second double. Little did they imagine what else was to come.