Wednesday, February 10, 2016

10 February 2002 - The Gunners Launch Their Title Assault

On 10 February 2002, Arsenal won away at Everton, 0-1, in Arsène Wenger's 300th match in charge. The match kick-started an English record 14 straight league wins that lifted the Gunners to that season's title and carried over into the following season.

Arsenal began the day in fourth, behind Liverpool, Newcastle, and Manchester United, but with games in hand on all of them. The Toffees, meanwhile, were 20 points back in 15th. But the match, played before a crowd of almost 31,000 at Goodison Park, was much closer than the table would have suggested.

It was a scrappy affair that would end with five yellow cards, all to Arsenal players. The visitors could not find their form in the first half, appearing sluggish and heavy-footed. It finally took a lucky break for them to take the lead, with striker Sylvain Wiltord (pictured) somehow volleying a Patrick Vieira cross off his shin and into the goal in the 62nd minute.

To the irritation of Everton manager Walter Smith, the referee denied two late penalty shouts from the Toffees and the match ended 0-1. Arsenal proceeded to win all of their remaining 12 league matches en route to the title and did not drop another point until their second match of the 2002-03 season, when they were held to 2-2 at West Ham.

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