Charlton 0 Arsenal 3

Last updated : 15 September 2002 By David Robson
Arsene Wenger's side displayed ruthless efficiency as they hit Charlton three times on the break at The Valley with strikes of the highest quality by Thierry Henry, Sylvain Wiltord and Edu.

Charlton never came close to matching their opponents' finishing prowess and were beaten by the same margin as last season. Wenger's side were under pressure early on, but Jonatan Johansson just failed to connect with a mishit volley by Chris Bart-Williams, while Kevin Lisbie headed wide and then shot straight at David Seaman.

In what was fast becoming a scrappy encounter, there was a brief spat between rival full-backs Luke Young and Ashley Cole that led to a ticking-off from referee Steve Dunn. Cole, however, had lost his cool so, at the next possible opportunity, he attempted to hack Young to the ground and was duly booked.

It was not until the 31st minute that either keeper had a save of any note to make, with Dean Kiely parrying a fierce volley by Wiltord after Dennis Bergkamp had picked him out at the far post. However, while Jason Euell headed narrowly wide after rising above Martin Keown, Arsenal retain that priceless ability to strike on the break.

Just before the break, Bergkamp crossed for Henry to strike a superb first-time shot just inside the post and the ball had nestled in the back of the net before Kiely had time to react. It was rather harsh on Charlton, who had acquitted themselves well in containing the double-winners and posed enough threats of their own to expose Keown on several occasions.

However, Arsenal were straight back on the offensive after the restart, with Toure striking the base of the post with a first-time shot from a cross by Wiltord, who was also again denied by Kiely. Charlton did rally briefly, with Euell placing one effort wide and seeing a cross-shot just escape the finishing touch of Johansson.

Wenger's response to that spell of Charlton pressure was to take off Toure and replace him with Edu. Just over a minute later, the move paid off handsomely. Edu showed great vision and precision to pick out Vieira as the Frenchman made a storming run through the centre. Having drawn keeper Kiely towards him, Vieira slipped a pass sideways to the unmarked figure of Wiltord and, having controlled the ball, he picked his spot and finished adeptly.

Charlton boss Alan Curbishley brought on Radostin Kishishev and Mathias Svensson with 10 minutes left but his decision to take off Euell was roundly booed by the home crowd. It was still Arsenal who posed the greatest threat, however, and while Henry missed the chance to punish Kiely for being lured out of his goal, Edu rounded off the scoring late on.

Henry was the instigator, delivering a pin-point cross onto the head of the Brazilian, who guided the ball over Kiely's head. While Edu had another effort ruled out for offside, Arsenal were home and dry. They are already odds-on to regain their title and, on this evidence, those odds could soon fall even further.

Editor Opinion

I have to say i'd expected this result but i think 3-0 was harsh. We did perform really well in the first half in what was really enjoyable game. I thought it was good to watch with end to end football but as soon as Wiltord scored the second, the game was over. 0 point out of 3 home games may sound bad but they were against top teams. Man Utd next at home with Southampton away next week - we might get some points out of these two games, the Man Utd game will be special.