Football: Bergkamp sets seal on masterful display

Arsenal 1 Chelsea 0

ARSENAL MANAGER Arsene Wenger pronounced last Friday that Chelsea would be Premiership champions this season. The Frenchman in all his wisdom may choose to revise his words after this supreme exhibition of passion, last ditch defending and one well-taken chance by Dennis Bergkamp.

Some will see this result as the Arsenal of old, but it was actually the kind of winning style which made Arsenal champions as recently as last season. Wenger's words afterwards confirmed that Arsenal are back on track.

"I don't want to give up on the Championship. I knew we had to win this game and it was our most important win of the season. If we had lost this the championship would have been over for us."

Chelsea were on an unbeaten streak of 21 Premiership games going back to last August but they had not been to Highbury and they had the misfortune to come up against an Arsenal defence that has now not conceded a goal in five league games and Glenn Hoddle permitting they were going to be damned if they were going to let one in this afternoon.

On a day where chances were worth their weight in championship gold Bergkamp took his and with it Arsenal only two points behind leaders Manchester United. With 32 minutes gone Emmanuel Petit hit a long pass to Marc Overmars at the top of the Chelsea penalty area. The winger out-jumped Dan Petrescu and headed onto Bergkamp. In a rare moment of freedom the Dutch striker took full advantage of being unmarked and calmly curled it into the net.

That was the high point of the first half defined by the fact there were as many bookings - three - as shots on goal with Chelsea shading the yellow cards by 2-1 as referee Graham Poll made his mark on the game. Not that either team was doing much to steal the limelight from Poll as they played a football of patterns without much idea on the final design.

Arsenal were without Patrick Vieira but had David Seaman back in goal after five games out. Chelsea were at all but maximum strength except for the absence of Albert Ferrer which forced a defensive reshuffle. Further reorganisation was needed in central defence when Mike Duberry went off injured after 40 minutes after Bergkamp appeared to catch him.

Arsenal were set on revenge for their 5-0 thrashing by Chelsea in November when they lost in the Worthington Cup and it was Bergkamp who went close early on although his shot lacked power. Overmars then saw his shot from the edge of the box palmed away for a corner but shortly afterwards Bergkamp was to prove decisive in a competition Arsenal truly care about.

It was not until late in the first half that Chelsea genuinely threatened Seaman but Bjarne Goldbaek's cross went across the six-yard box with no one to tap it in.

The fact there was such slim pickings for Chelsea was due to Petit and Remi Garde operating so efficiently they closed down their opposite numbers in midfield and when Marcel Desailly replaced Duberry in defence there was even less of a threat to Arsenal.

But Roberto Di Matteo did eventually force Seaman into a save when the Italian's shot fizzed off his left foot but the England goalkeeper tipped the ball over. Then with Arsenal's offside trap sprung for once Petit summed up his effort in the game by sprinting back to deny Gianfranco Zola a certain goal.

As the game inevitably turned into a siege on Seaman's goal it was left to their trusty back line plus Petit to save the game, as the Gunners realised what all three points would do for their Championship challenge. As Wenger said later, he realised his players were intensely focussed on this game ending his press conference with the ominous words, "I prefer the pressure at the top".

Though Bergkamp scored the winning goal, for the Dutchman himself the hero of the hour was the returning Seaman. "We have got a very good squad and we are lucky to have two good goalies," he said. "But of course David Seaman is very experienced and very good in these games. He gives you something extra."

Goal: Bergkamp (32) 1-0.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman, Adams, Keown, Dixon, Winterburn; Petit, Garde, Parlour, Overmars (Daiwara, 74); Bergkamp (Upson, 90), Anelka (Vivas, 67). Substitutes not used: Ljungberg, Manninger (gk).

Chelsea (4-4-2): De Goey; Petrescu, Duberry (Goldbaek, 40), Leboeuf, Le Saux; Wise, Desailly, Di Matteo, Babayaro; Vialli, Zola (Forssell, 74). Substitutes not used: Terry, Morris, Hitchcock (gk).

Referee: G. Poll (Tring).

Bookings: Arsenal: Bergkamp, Keown. Chelsea: Petrescu, Leboeuf, Goldbaek.

Man of the match: Petit.

Attendance: 38,121.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower