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Premier League
Game 02: Tuesday 21 August 2001

Arsenal 1 - 2 Leeds United
(Half-time: 1 - 1)
Crowd: 38062
Referee: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees)
Leeds United
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Match Facts
Arsenal Team Leeds United
David Seaman   Nigel Martyn
Booked - 71 minutes Ashley Cole   Danny Mills Booked - 18 minutes Sent off - 87 minutes
Sol Campbell   Ian Harte Goal - 28 minutes
Tony Adams   Rio Ferdinand
Bisan-Etame Laureano   Dominic Matteo
Booked - 72 minutes Robert Pires   Olivier Dacourt Booked - 10 minutes
Patrick Vieira   Eirik Bakke Booked - 8 minutes Subbed - 88 minutes
Subbed - 77 minutes Frederik Ljungberg   Lee Bowyer Booked - 13 minutes Sent off - 77 minutes
Subbed - 66 minutes Ray Parlour   Harry Kewell Subbed - 88 minutes
Booked - 68 minutes Thierry Henry   Alan Smith Subbed - 47 minutes
Subbed - 77 minutes Goal - 32 minutes Sylvain Wiltord   Mark Viduka Goal - 52 minutes Booked - 75 minutes
Richard Wright   Danny Milosevic
Sub - 77 minutes Giovanni van Bronckhorst   Gary Kelly Sub - 88 minutes
Gilles Grimandi   Jonathan Woodgate Sub - 88 minutes
Sub - 66 minutes Dennis Bergkamp   David Batty Sub - 47 minutes
Sub - 77 minutes Booked - 80 minutes Francis Jeffers   Robbie Keane
Match Reports
Ed Morrish Arsenal 1-2 Leeds
Jeremy Adams Armchair Arse report
Kevin Lewis Last Night's Game
Matt G 9 men in the library
Richard Naef Walking in a Winter wonderland
Robert Wood Walking in a Winter wonderland
BBC Leeds stun Arsenal
The Guardian Viduka wins the vendetta
The Independent Viduka grabs glory for 9-man Leeds Nine-man Leeds stun Arsenal
Soccernet Viduka seals points on a niggly night at Highbury
The Sporting Life Arsenal 1 - 2 Leeds
The Electronic Telegraph Viduka sets Leeds alight
The Times Arsenal lose battle
Yorkshire Evening Post Nine-man United draw first blood

The Times, Sunday Times and Telegraph now seem to require registration to view articles on their sites, with the Times and Sunday Times charging readers outside the UK. The Times/Sunday Times has also moved some of the older articles into an archive which requires separate registration and requires you to pay to access the content. The Independent now charges for access to articles more than a week old.

Arsenal 1-2 Leeds - Ed Morrish

The match was watched in the Crown Inn in King's Sombourne, Hampshire, with Andy Gannaway. Pretty deserted, but a few mates of Andy's filtered in during the evening, mostly Arsenal fans. Nice pub, cheap and good beer. Recommended.

I thought we were poor for most of the first half - compared to them we were slow, undynamic and we passed poorly. They basically had the run of the midfield, because although Bakke and Dacourt were playing well, they weren't playing together. It was clear though that the Gods had a spread bet on bookings. Mills pushed Pires over. Ollie kicked Vieira. Bakke decapitated Parlour. And so on. The Harte goal had a hint of illegality about it (I'm sure if Beckham had done it we'd be decrying it as ungentlemanly) but the ref was right there and I guess it's Arse's problem if they don't arrange the wall in time it's their lookout. Seaman is getting used to conceding goals when the wall doesn't arrange itself.

Given our relatively lacklustre performance it was no surprise that they basically equalised immediately. Cole's mis-hit shot deflected off of Mills' leg and onto Wiltord's head. He looked like he didn't know too much about it, just stuck his neck out. Think of him as Lee Chapman without the ball-playing skill. I was relieved to get to half-time with no further incidents, apart from Harte and Matteo lynching Henry and hanging his body from the cross bar.

Shortly after half time, Smudger came off, O'Leary quite reasonably thinking that if the other lads were getting booked, Smudger was in line for being summarily executed. Batty came on and immediately made a difference. You could see that it hurt to be subbed at ER last match, and he gelled with Ollie much better than Bakke, who pushed out slightly left while Harry roamed the front line just behind Vidooks, who was busy stabbing Campbell. Kewell, released by Bakke, made Lauren and Campbell look like the overpaid arses they are before slipping a good ball to Vidooks who held off Adams to turn and shoot low to Seaman's right. Adams was left pathetically trying get hold of Pieman's shirt. This seemed to knock the wind out of Arse's sails, and they started trying to match us for fouls, rather than play football.

Bows was booked for nothing, replay showed he clearly made little or no contact with Cole, who stumbled and got up. The resulting card(s) was deserving of of the abuse Bowyer gave Winter, but you can't help thinking it was perhaps a mistake for Lee to give it himself, rather than leave it to those who abuse referees the best - the fans. As he left the pitch, Bowyer stamped on a fluffy kitten.

Mills was clearly trying to get sent off from the start, although his initial booking was perhaps a tad harsh. When Cole was lying on the ground, trying to get a free kick, Mills tried to bounce the ball off of him to win a throw-in (perhaps remembering that Arsenal don't have the best record for gentlemanly throw-ins; Sheff Utd in the FA Cup?). It didn't bounce hard enough because Millsy didn't kick it hard enough - he wasn't trying to hurt him, just make a point. Ungentlemanly conduct, however, warrants a yellow card. Bye bye Danny. On the way to the changing rooms, I think I saw him punch a child.

On came Woody and Kells to add some bulk to the defence. Off came Vidooks and Bakke, thus guaranteeing ten minutes plus stoppage of continuous assault by Arsenal - ironic since we'd spent eighty minutes assualting their players. From here on in, Leeds defended as one amorphous mass, so we can't really pick out any one player for distinction. However, we hung on and that's what matters, Bergkamp and Henry wasting their best chances.

Martyn: 7 Solid enough, defence to blame for their goal.
Mills: 5, was out for a fight, but won Harte's free kick and made some decent runs. Caught out of position by the pacey opposition too often for my liking though.
Matteo: 7, solid enough.
Ferdinand: 7, solid as usual, but who was marking Wiltord for their goal?
Harte: 6, Oh. Good goal, though.
Bowyer: 5, worst performance I've ever seen from him.
Dacourt: 8, superb.
Bakke: 7, good, but clearly not gelling with the rest of the side. Glimpses of how good he can be, especially when linking with Kewell.
Kewell: 7, good play, but went missing for too long.
Viduka: 9, wonderful, held the ball up, was a handful for the Arse and took his goal well.
Smith: 6, nothing special - is he injured?

Batty: 8, shored up the midfield and tipped the game in our favour.
Kelly and Woodgate: 7 each. Defended en masse, nothing to distinguish them in the game, but did nothing wrong.

Referee: You've got to be joking.

Armchair Arse report - Jeremy Adams

Well it wasn't a game for the fainthearted that's for sure. They came at us right from the kick off but we defended well and slowly started to get into the match. Mills must have had a wedding or something to go to as he seemed determined to get sent off before halftime. Leeds decided that they all needed to keep Mills company and proceeded to "put it up the Arse". Arsenal decided they better fall down every time a Leeds player came near them. Arsenal had the better of midfield, Bakke seemed to fade after about 5 mins leaving Bowyer to cover two positions. Goal came after some decent pressure from us, Hartey taking everyone by surprise with the early free kick including the camera man as he was busy focusing on somebody on the sidelines or something. Goal pissed Arsenal off no end and they started to pile on the pressure again and scored after a few mins, Wiltord heading in Coles miscued shot. Thought we were under the cosh after that till halftime. Half time had me assuming Bakke would come off and Batty would come on. I was wrong, no change. a minute into the second half Smith came off injured (ankle, no idea how bad), Batty came on and Kewell was pushed up front. IMHO we looked a different team, Batty closed down the midfield with Dacourt allowing Bowyer to get forward a bit more, Kewell, who'd done bugger all suddenly came alive.

Then..... Kewell gets the ball wide takes on two defenders before slotting ball to Vidooks who was being marked by Adams, possibly the only man slower than pie man. Marky boy trundles round Adams and drives the ball low into the corner. Arse began to get pissed off and were commiting petty fouls and we looked in control.

Then... Jeff Winter decided that a clumsy foul by Bowyer was somehow worthy of a second yellow and off Lee went (not after telling Jeff that maybe his parents weren't married).

Arse come at us again....

Then...... Mills decides that he's not going to miss the reception at least so deliberately plays the ball onto an Arse player lying on the ground in mock agony. In all fairness I thought Mills was simply trying to play the ball off him and into touch for a Leeds throw, but as soon as I saw it I knew the ref would see it different.

Backs to the wall time with ten mins to go PLUS 5 mins of added on time, thought we must have been playing at TOWD for a sec. We defended superbly and although they pumped ball after ball into the box there weren't TOO many heart stopping moments.

Batty and Dacourt were supreme, Ferdinand also, oh yea and Nige. Mills ran his socks off but I'm still amazed he got to stay on the pitch as long as he did. Harte is slower than Adams. Everyone else solid.

Vidooks didn't do a whole lot but did take his goal well. I was disappointed in Kewell, after reading about his pre-season I was expecting him to tear their defence apart. Bakke did much better second half though can't seem to win a tackle.

3 massive points and second in the league on goal difference.

OH YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last Night's Game - Kevin Lewis

Well Winter was nowhere near as bad as Elleray the night before.

My views on some of the incidents.

I thought all the early bookings apart from Bowyer's could have been given a 2nd chance, although none were so mild that the booking was way over the top. Mills was the most unlucky there. Bowyer's was a definite in my book.

Bowyer then went on to commit a couple of minor fouls, before his 2nd bookable. I still think he should have been given a final chance as the 3 fouls he commited after the booking were not too bad. However Bowyer always gives the ref plenty of mouth when he's penalised, which probably tips the balance.

Mills was a bit stupid. Got involved in plenty of battles all night, even after getting booked, no particularly bad ones but on any unofficial totting up had to get another yellow for drilling it up Cole's arse. Pointing at Cole and deliberately knocking it up the line into touch would have ingratiated him with the ref, whilst getting the ball far enough forward should Arse have done their usual and not returned it to the opposition.

I wonder what punishment Tony Adams would have got for grabbing Viduka's shirt and pulling back, if he had not scored!

Always looked like we would get somebody sent off after those 4 bookings in the 1st 20. Trouble is I suppose that DOL had to try and work out which 2 of the 4 were most likely to get themselves into trouble again. Dacourt especially and Bakke did well to play a full part in the last 70 mins of the game without committing another foul of any note.

Regarding Harte's goal:- If you can take a quick free-kick from anywhere else on the field, why not be allowed to do it near the defenders' goal? Of course as Seaman said the refs have to be consistent about what they will/won't allow in such cases, or at least tell the players before-hand.

Must congratulate DOL on tactical changes at half-time. Bringing on an extra midfielder was just what we wanted in the context of this match. It was only after Bowyer got sent off that Mills was put under any pressure in the 2nd half.

Lastly some scores.

Martyn 8
Mills 6 Has to bear most of the blame for being sent off.
Ferdinand 8
Matteo 8
Harte 7 Better Defending, alright Pires left him a couple of times, but his reading of the game has improved. Good free kicks.
Bowyer 5 A bit overworked in the 1st half, should have tried to stay on.
Bakke 7 Looking better this season
Dacourt 8 Even including, and after, being booked
Kewell 7 Anonymous 1st half, showed quality and work rate in the 2nd
Smith 5 Ran hard, but ineffective.
Viduka 8 Much improved over Saturday, worked, scored.

Batty 7 Much better than Saturday
Woodgate & Kelly not on long enough but both made important contributions in a short time.

Ref. Not as bad as everyone else thinks cos I can't see what options he had 7.

9 men in the library - Matt G

Pretty sweet victory last night.

Jeff Winter had obviously decided to stamp his authority on the match which meant we had our entire midfield booked in the 1st 15 minutes - which made it inevitable someone would get sent off.

1st half we were pretty average, Martyn made a couple of good saves and we barely had a shot - so when Harte scored from a quickly taken free-kick it was totally against the run of play. Arsenal equalized pretty quickly and to be honest we were lucky to be level at h-t.

About 5 minutes into 2nd half - Batty came on for Smith which we all thought was a bizarre substitution - but in hindsight DOL was correct - it made us more solid in the middle allowed Kewell and Bowyer to push forward a bit more and cut down on Lauren and Cole's forward runs.

Scored a super 2nd goal - nice run by Kewell - Viduka made Adams look like a statue and buried it in the corner - not many chances after that and it got a bit petty - a couple of nasty tackles from Arsenal players then Bowyer got a 2nd booking for a pretty innocous tackle - unfortunately he then gave Winter a right mouthful of abuse and so probably be in more trouble now.

I'm not even sure what Mills was sent off for - he might be a bit of a c**t by kicking the ball at Cole as he was laying on the floor but as the ball was still in play i don't think he actually did anything wrong. He was only trying to get a throw-in - and if he'd have wanted to hurt Cole he could have kicked it a lot harder. If Winter's saying it's unsportsmanlike conduct then how about Lauren diving in the area twice or Pires falling over everytime anyone looked at him.

Last few minutes plus injury time were torture as we reverted to Rugby tactics and kept kicking to touch to waste time - but i don't think Arsenal actually forced Martyn to make a save in the whole 2nd half. Very relieved when the final whistle went. Interesting journey home - only Leeds fan on a train with about a thousand pissed off Arsenal fans.

Postscript - got booed on arrival at work (in Islington) and on entering the pub in my Leeds shirt on Wednesday. Nice to be unpopular.

Walking in a Winter wonderland - Richard Naef

Well the away season ticket paid for it self on the first game! Even tho, I spent most of the last 20 mins covering my eyes.

Great gutsy performance, they had the better of the first half, but I think we edged the 2nd until the sendings off.

The spirit of the lads shouldn't surprise me after last season, but its still a real buzz to see 9 blokes giving everything, compared to Arsenal, who are basically 11 players who happen to wear the same shirt. The utter utter stupidity of filling you team with brilliant individuals must surely be finally coming home to people.

As for the whingers, I'd rather have Ian Harte than ANY of the Arsenal players, because he f***ing gives everything for the TEAM, so stick that up your pipes and smoke it! (obviously pass it to me afterwards).


Best bits:

the final whistle
preceeding 98 minutes of football

Worst bits:

The bloody arse players falling over and Winter falling for it.

MOM, Matteo, would have been Mills if he hadn't been sent off, who despite what everyone says had a good game got some decent crosses in.


Good display of raucous happy pisstaking from the fans,

"You're just a small town in Tottenham"
"You're just a library in Tottenham"
"Cambell is a tottenham fan, tottenham fan, tottenham fan"
& a new one as far as I can remember (about 2 weeks)
"Leebowyer me lord, Leebowyer, oh lord leebowyer" sung to "Cumbaya My Lord". There was more to this (someat about the c***t c**E?)but couldn't really get the words so I just mummbled along (like that bit in D12's Blue and Yellow, Purple Pills) anyone with a better attendance record or superiour hearing able to help me out on this one.

Finally we gave decent round of applause to the Asrenal Ladies team who won everything last year.


Good to see some of you again, a a few for the first time, Oystein had his alledged "partner" with him, but she's far too nice, so probably was doing it for a dare.

Thirkers on decent form, his present for his Kids from London was an AtoZ, hhhmmm, he reckons he wants them to know London (so they can become cabbies?), but I reckon he's just too tight and plans to make a homemade version of Monopoly for them - Tight Git!

Alan Edgar is to be a father in a couple of weeks, I believe he's at West Ham, so can anyone who has his mobile nr, call him at 3:00:05 and pretend to be his wife and tell him he has to get home a drive her to the maternity unit.

Read somewhere that the hammers game is in a slight doubt because the new stand (which we paid for) hasn't passed safety checks?

Walking in a Winter wonderland - Robert Wood

I'm still not sure how we won last night (it's because we scored more goals than Arsenal - ed); Arsenal had most of the game, even before Mr Winter decided that Arsenal should have a two man advantage, way more shots on target and way more possession. What Leeds had in abundance was spirit, a desire to win and a cutting edge. We also had the noisier fans by far, but hey, what's new in this bizarre world of all seater stadia?

After five minutes Arsenal had overrun Leeds, we could hardly get a touch of the ball, Pires and Viera looked awesome on the ball and could ghost past Leeds players with minimum effort. However, we clung on and clawed our way back into the game. Arsenal players at every possible opportunity fell over whenever a Leeds player got anywhere near them. Winter fell for their cheating three times within the first twenty minutes or so and three Leeds players were booked. Pires and Ashley Cole were the worst cheats (from where I was sat, sorry, stood).

I can't quite remember the times things happened, but after Mills was booked he pushed over someone (Pires?) and I was sure Mills was going off. Amazingly Winter kept his yellow card in his pocket. Two minutes later Mills fouled someone just outside our area, barging in to him (although this was so far away, this could well have been another dive). Still Winter kept his cards in his pocket.

Danny-Mills-is-f***ing-brilliant made a trademark hundred miles and hour surge towards the Arse area and was pulled down, the free kick wasn't given, but no advantage was forthcoming so the free kick was eventually awarded. (I thought advantage was out of the window this season?) Harte took a free kick that reminded me of last season's Bradford game, in that Arsenal didn't really seem to be ready. Seamen, just like against Germany last season, desperately clawed at the free kick that had been directed through a gap in the forming wall, but the ball unbelievably nestled in the back of the net. Predictably we went mental. Predictably Arsenal equalised soon after. Diver Cole scurried towards the Leeds area and whipped a shot in, which fortuitously (for Arse) came off a Leeds leg into the path of Wiltord who sharply directed it into the Leeds goal. That was the loudest by a mile that the library got all night.

Some meathead in front of me started giving a Nazi salute to some Arsenal fans.


We inched our way towards half time, clinging on to the game really, but Viduka (who worked harder than I've ever seen him work before) was released into the Arse box, turned neatly and shot just over. The Arsenal fans informed us he was just a fat Aussie bastard. Come on, he's not *just* a fat Aussie bastard; the Arse fans would find this out later... We contented ourselves with informing the Arse fans that they were just a suburb of Tottenham and that Sol Campbell was a Tottenham fan.

Start of the second half saw, bizarrely, Batts on and Smith off, I couldn't work this one out, but was damn glad to see Batts on. I love Batty, me. He brought some order to midfield, looked cool under pressure and made you wonder why on earth he hadn't started.

About ten mins into the second half Kewell made a fantastic mazy run, skipped past a couple of players and laid the ball off to Pie Man. With a totally uncustomary burst of speed (either that or Adams is bollock-slow <g>) he cut inside with Adams almost pulling the shirt off Vidooks' back; the big Aussie had a clear site of goal and he found the small gap between Seaman's hand and the post.

It's funny the things you notice sometimes at games, but in the delirium my abiding memory is of Nige standing stock still with his hands in the air. We agreed with the Arsenal fans that Viduka was just a fat Aussie bastard. I'm sure they saw the irony. ;-)

The next thirty five minutes were agony. I felt sick with nerves. Richard standing beside me hid his head in his hands as attack after attack rained down on Nige's goal. In fact I'm sure had their been a sofa at the library he'd have hidden behind it. ;-)

Inevitably, we had a player sent off. Bowyer innocuously went in for a tackle, which Jeff deemed to be another bookable offence. Glad to see this new era of professional refs is paying off. LeeBowya wasn't too amused at he decision and shouted and blasphemed into the face of Mr Winter. That'll do him a favour or two.

The attacks became more frequent. Ashley Luganis Cole thrashed at the heels of Millsey, but Danny somehow came away with the ball. As Cole lay play acting on the floor Mills had the bright idea of kicking the ball off him to win a throw in. Unfortunately Jeff saw this a malicious act and out came the yellow card again. Nine men.

Adams played as a fourth centre forward along with Big Ears, Henry and Beavis; Kells and Woody came on and more and more injury time was played. It seemed like we were going to play as long as it took for Arsenal to equalise.

At the final whistle, we rubbed it in with a "We only had nine men" taunt at Arsenal and I had to bite my tongue walking back to the car, as I listened to a load of bitter Arse fans talking about dirty Leeds spoiling the game. Ha!

Viduka wins the vendetta - David Lacey

Copy from Football Unlimited of 22/08/2001.

Arsenal and Leeds produced the familiar mixture of red meat and gristle here last night in a match which thrived amid another welter of bookings.

Despite Arsenal's dominance Leeds took the lead through a cheeky free-kick from Ian Harte and regained it through Mark Viduka soon after half-time following Sylvain Wiltord's headed equaliser. Towards the end Leeds were reduced to nine men as Lee Bowyer and then Danny Mills were sent off for second bookable offences.

This fixture looked ripe for the peace process. Last season's match at Elland Road saw Patrick Vieira receive a one-match ban for kicking out at Olivier Dacourt while another Arsenal player, Robert Pires, complained about David O'Leary blowing kisses at him. At Highbury Arsenal's Martin Keown, unfit last night, earned a three-match ban (against which he is appealing) for allegedly elbowing Viduka and stamping on Bowyer.

Read the rest...

Viduka grabs glory for 9-man Leeds - Glenn Moore

Copy from The Independent of 22/08/2001.

It was Beauty and the Beast at Highbury last night and the Beast won. Leeds United will not worry about that, however, having gained what could prove a vital victory, as much for its psychological impact as for the three points.

They may regret the price they paid. Amid 11 yellow cards, seven for Leeds, both Lee Bowyer and Danny Mills were sent off for collecting two apiece. Bowyer could be set for further punishment after appearing to abuse the referee, Jeff Winter, after his dismissal. Between the niggles and kicks, goals from Ian Harte, after 29 minutes, and Mark Viduka, after 53, outnumbered Sylvain Wiltord's 31st-minute equaliser.

"To come to a place like this and win without playing well is a fantastic three points," said David O'Leary. The Leeds manager added: "Personally I didn't think it was a dirty game. I couldn't believe some of the bookings."

O'Leary is hardly an impartial witness. To the neutral observer Leeds set out to disrupt Arsenal rather than outplay them. None of the tackles were as bad as Mauricio Taricco's on Thomas Gravesen on Monday night, but most warranted bookings by modern standards.

Winter used his yellow card to caution Leeds players four times in the opening 18 minutes but could have been even stricter. He was criticised for creating a rod for his own back with these cautions but if players keep kicking opponents it is hardly his fault. Arsenal, for 45 minutes, produced the sort of football which fills stadiums and if a team can only stop them by foul means they deserve to be penalised.

In the end, Arsenal lost their heads as well. As they sought to level against an increasingly depleted Leeds, frayed tempers led to bookings while their football became as inept as Everton's on Monday. Instead of stretching Leeds by working the ball wide and seeking to pull it back from the byline they hoisted long balls into the box from deep thus negating their numerical advantage.

"We are really disappointed," said the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger. "We need to be strong at home. There were many fouls, a lot of over-reacting, it was not the football I like."

For most of the opening half-hour Arsenal, with Robert Pires outstanding, were utterly dominant and between bookings Nigel Martyn had to deny Wiltord three times and Adams once.

Then Leeds, breaking out of defence, stunned Highbury. Mills, on a driving run, was felled by Pires. With Arsenal still building their wall Harte curled a 25-yard shot round it and inside the far post. "It was ridiculous," said Wenger. "It should not be accepted. You are building the wall and the guy just shoots."

Arsenal, players and fans alike fired by a sense of injustice, tore into the attack and, within three minutes, were rewarded. Pires, striding through the midfield, found Ashley Cole on the left. His attempted shot took a slight deflection and Wiltord, reacting sharply, dived to head the ball past Martyn.

Leeds' problems appeared to worsen when Alan Smith limped off with an ankle injury but O'Leary reacted well. David Batty came on to strengthen the midfield and the previously anonymous Bowyer and Harry Kewell, were asked to support Viduka from the flanks.

It worked like a dream. Six minutes later Kewell, breaking down the left, beat Lauren before crossing to Viduka. He drifted past a pedestrian Tony Adams to drive past David Seaman. As tempers rose the cards returned and, with 11 minutes to go, Bowyer, booked for a scything foul on Lauren in the first half, was cautioned again for bringing down Cole. It seemed one of the harsher decisions.

Seven minutes later Mills, who had been sailing close to the wind for some time, finally pushed Winter too far, kicking the ball at Cole as the player lay injured on the ground after one of his own challenges. Leeds, showing far more spirit than Arsenal had imagination, held on for their first Premiership win at Highbury since 1994.

The report used to be available online here.

Nine-man United draw first blood - Matt Reeder

Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 22/08/2001.

GUTSY Leeds proved once again they can mix it with the very best last night as they completed an astonishing against-all-odds victory at Arsenal.

Goals from Ian Harte and Mark Viduka came either side of a Sylvain Wiltord header to give United a glorious 2-1 win over the Gunners, but that barely tells the story of a dramatic night in north London which saw United reduced to nine men.

Played at a lung-busting pace throughout it was the type of high-octane encounter we have come to expect between two teams who, put simply, don't like to lose. The warning signs had been there for all to see with a staggering 41 bookings and two red cards in their previous six matches.

Referee Jeff Winter ensured that record continued last night as he produced his very own version of the good, the bad and totally ridiculous to take 11 cautions and send both Lee Bowyer and Danny Mills off. His fistful of cards threatened to give Arsenal the victory in first of this season's clashes of the title contentenders.

But United are made of strong stuff these days and should it be Leeds who pick up the Premiership title come May then it is games like this one wich will have won it for them.

The ability to win games when you are not playing well is a vital ingredient in any championship bid. To do that you need spirit, guts and a lot of hard work - three values this Leeds United side has in abundance.

United certainly weren't at their flowing best last night and at times seemed to be clinging on by their finger-nails. But cling on they did for what was a truly memorable victory over the team Leeds love to hate.

Boss O'Leary had kept faith with the side which finished the match against Southampton on Saturday. Alan Smith starting for Robbie Keane and Eirik Bakke replacing David Batty. However, they struggled to make any early impact.

As with the weekend it was goalkeeper Nigel Martyn who saved the day early on, palming away a fierce strike from Wiltord away to his left to keep the scores level.

But the tone of the evening was set as early as the seventh minute when referee Winter made the first of four United bookings in an 11-minute spell.

Eirik Bakke was first to see yellow for a foul on Ray Parlour. Olivier Dacourt followed him three minutes later for a late challenge on Patrick Vieira and Lee Bowyer made it the third midfielder in the book after 13 minutes when he caught Lauren with a trailing leg. Danny Mills completed the quartet when he clattered into Freddie Ljungberg.

Leeds certainly looked shaken up as Arsenal poured forward and could have been a goal down if it was not for more briliance from keeper Martyn.

He needed to be at his best as he arched back to tip a Tony Adams header over the bar in the 21st minute and then get down well to hold onto a long-range effort from Wiltord after an exquisite flick from Thierry Henry had created an opening.


His best save of the half, however, came in the 27th minute as he clawed another Wiltord effort around the post when Henry had once again mesmerised the United defence.

Chances missed, it was United's turn to make their presence felt and they struck a killer blow against the run of play with the cheekiest of goals you are likely to see all season.

Mills broke into the Arsenal half and was pulled down by Pires on the edge of the box - Ian Harte territory. The United full-back, who scored at Highbury last season, was quick to see the home defence in turmoil and he curled a quick free-kick around the wall and low into Seaman's bottom right-hand corner.

Arsenal players and fans were livid that referee Winter allowed the effort to stand but the travelling army of Yorkshire fans roared their delight. The lead, however, lasted just five minutes as the goal the home side had been threatening all game finally arrived.

Ashley Cole broke menacingly down the left and before any Leeds man could cover him a low, pacy cross had been delivered onto the head of the diving Wiltord and the ball was nestling in the back of Martyn's net.

United did end the half strongly with Viduka firing an effort over from a difficult angle and then a wicked Harte free-kick found the big Aussie free at the far post but his header flew wide.

Saturday's hero, Alan Smith had turned the game when he came on to the field against Saints. He had the same effect last night when he hobbled off injured.

O'Leary ignored the temptation to bring on another striker and instead packed the midfield with Batty coming into the centre and Lee Bowyer pushing up along the right wing to counter the forward runs of Cole.

The move worked like a dream as Arsenal's midfielders, who had ran the game in the first half, had little space to attack and United took the upper hand for the first time in the match.

They took full advantage too as Viduka produced a stunning goal to give them a 52nd minute lead. Picking up a ball from Harry Kewell he cut inside and rounded Tony Adams, before striking a low right foot effort past Seaman's right hand from 18 yards.

With the Gunners set for an onslaught the game then turned silly with referee Winter the chief instigator. Henry was booked for a foul on Mills, Cole was then cautioned for a foul on Bowyer, Pires for a challenge on Mills and Viduka was given a yellow when he tripped Pires.

There hardly seemed time for any football with so many cards being flashed about. But it was the red ones which almost put paid to United's hopes of taking home three points.

Bowyer was first to see red with just over ten minutes remaining when he picked up a second yellow for a soft foul on Cole. Mills followed soon after.

Mills kicked the ball against the injured Cole who was on the floor. The United defender protested he was trying to earn a throw-in by deflecting the ball off the Arsenal defender's backside but Mr Winter classed it as unsporting behaviour and sent him off.

The Gunners' barrage continued but the Leeds United rear-guard action held firm. Mark Viduka epitomising the spirit in the side by throwing himself at Pires as the Frenchman attempted to shoot in the dying seconds

Rio Ferdinand and Dominic Matteo were simply superb as the home side threw everything forward and with Batty's assuring guidance in the middle of the park O'Leary brought on Gary Kelly and Jon Woodgate near the death just to see the boys in blue home for a very memorable victory - in more ways than one.

The report used to be available online here.

Leeds United Web Ring
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