Sun, Sep 28, 2003 - Page 23 News List

Arsenal rises in standings after victory

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE Thierry Henry scored the opening goal for the Gunners, who now lead in the standings by four points over Chelsea and Manchester United

AP , LONDON

Arsenal's Thierry Henry, right, gives Newcaslte's Kieron Dyer the slip during their match at Highbury Stadium in London, Friday.

PHOTO: AFP

Thierry Henry scored on a penalty late in the second half as Arsenal, playing for the first time since six players were charged by the Football Association, beat Newcastle 3-2 to extend its lead atop the Premier League.

Henry also scored the opening goal for the Gunners, who lead the standings by four points over Chelsea and Manchester United. Gilberto Silva had the other Arsenal goal, giving the home team a 2-1 lead in the second half.

Laurent Robert and Olivier Bernard scored for Newcastle, which still hasn't won a league game and is second-last in the standings. The Magpies finished third last season.

Martin Keown, Lauren, Patrick Vieira, Ashley Cole, Jens Lehmann and Ray Parlour were all charged with improper conduct by the FA this week following an ill-tempered 0-0 draw with Manchester United on Sunday. Two United players were also charged. The Gunners, though, played disciplined Friday -- not one player received a yellow card.

"We were quite flat the last two or three days in training because the players were shocked," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told Sky Sports. "I wasn't sure what kind of response you would get. Sometimes you can go the other way and not play at all. It showed (Friday) the players had a lot of experience and strength."

Henry said it was a game Arsenal had to win.

"It was important for us to win no matter what," the French forward said. "I think people forgot what our [league] position was during the week."

Arsenal was awarded the penalty after referee Mike Riley called a handball against Jermaine Jenas in the 79th minute. Newcastle players surrounded Riley following the decision, though television replays appeared to show the ball touching Jenas' hand.

Henry, who missed his last penalty, beat Shay Given with a low chip down the middle.

"I just felt it was the right thing to do," said Henry.

The Gunners played the last 20 minutes with virtually 10 players _ midfielder Freddie Ljungberg suffered an ankle injury but couldn't be substituted because Wenger already made three changes.

Vieira and Cole were taken off earlier in the game.

"We had to play at 10 men, and we still managed to get something out of the game," said Henry.

Newcastle manager Bobby Robson said his team deserved better.

"We really did, in all honesty, deserve something from the game," said Robson. "It's been a really difficult night for us.''

Henry, who now has six goals, gave Arsenal a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute. Titus Bramble's attempted clearance went straight to Henry, who tapped into an open net.

Robert, with four goals in six games against Arsenal, made it 1-1 eight minutes later, converting a Kieron Dyer pass.

Silva's header -- that went off his shoulder -- made it 2-1 in the 66th, but Bernard's hard left-footed shot made it 2-2 in the 70th.

Vieira suffered a thigh strain and had to be substituted in the 25th minute, while Cole was taken off early in the second half.

Wenger said Ljungberg will miss Tuesday's Champions League game against Lokomotiv Moscow, while Cole and Vieira are questionable.

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