Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Arsenal (April 2004)

Goalscorers: Patrick Vieira 3, Robert Pires 35, Jamie Redknapp 63, Robbie Keane 90 PEN

Teams:

Tottenham Hotspur: Kasey Keller, Anthony Gardner, Stephen Kelly (Gus Poyet 79), Ledley King, Mauricio Taricco (Goran Bunjevcevic 90), Johnnie Jackson (Jermain Defoe 45), Michael Brown, Jamie Redknapp, Simon Davies, Freddie Kanoute, Robbie Keane

Arsenal: Jens Lehmann, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole, Lauren, Kolo Toure, Gilberto, Patrick Vieira, Ray Parlour (Edu 67), Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp (Jose Antonio Reyes 80), Thierry Henry

Referee: Mark Halsey, Attendance: 36,097

The 134th North London Derby was always going to be a passionate and feisty encounter and for Arsenal, this was the opportunity to wrap up the 2003-2004 Premier League title. Still unbeaten and with just five Premier League games to go, they were closing in on becoming ‘The Invincibles.’

Chelsea’s defeat in an earlier kick-off to Newcastle United meant Arsenal only needed a point to secure their third Premier League title and unbeaten in their last eight North London Derbies, they made a searing start, taking the lead against Tottenham inside of three minutes. From a Spurs corner which was poorly taken by Johnnie Jackson, Arsenal launched another devastating counter-attack, led by top goalscorer Thierry Henry. Henry picked out Dennis Bergkamp, who squared the ball across the face of goal for skipper Patrick Vieira to slide into the back of the net.

Tottenham were not certain of avoiding relegation just yet and they simply couldn’t live with a masterclass from their opponents. 10 minutes before half-time, Vieira set-up Robert Pires who scored for the third successive season at White Hart Lane. Apart from a Mauricio Taricco effort, David Pleat’s side threatened very little in the first half and he needed to change things tactically in the second half.

Jackson was sacrificed at half-time and Jermain Defoe was brought on and he had a big contribution in Tottenham pulling a goal back. He took on Kolo Toure in the 63rd minute, before finding Michael Brown. Brown shifted the ball across the park to Jamie Redknapp and the skipper produced a fantastic effort that spun into the bottom corner beyond Jens Lehmann. It was an enjoyable moment for a player who had been dogged by injuries throughout his career.

Arsenal had chances to wrap the game up. Pires smashed the crossbar after Anthony Gardner had carelessly conceded possession. As stoppage-time got underway, Lehmann got involved in an unnecessary confrontation with Robbie Keane from a Brown corner which had struck the crossbar. Referee Mark Halsey needed some guidance from his two assistants and they judged Lehmann had fouled Keane.

The penalty was given and Keane made no mistake to ensure Tottenham did claim a point which virtually guaranteed their Premier League survival. However, it didn’t stop the Arsenal celebrations at the full-time whistle from the supporters and the players. Their 13th league championship was definitely the sweetest. Wenger’s men survived the final four matches to become the first team since 1888 to go through a top-flight season without losing and securing their place in immortal history.

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