28th-30th September 2002

Results: Leeds United 1-4 Arsenal, Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Southampton, Charlton Athletic 1-3 Manchester United, Chelsea 2-3 West Ham United, Everton 2-0 Fulham, Manchester City 0-3 Liverpool FC, Sunderland 1-0 Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur 0-3 Middlesbrough, Birmingham City 0-2 Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Blackburn Rovers

Still undefeated at the start of the season, champions Arsenal were looking in irresistible form at the end of September 2002. The Gunners travelled to Elland Road to face Leeds United, aiming at more records and this performance demonstrated the growing gulfing gap that was emerging between the two sides.

Kanu’s opening goal after nine minutes ensured Arsenal had now scored in 47 successive top-flight matches, breaking a record that had stood for 71 years that had been held by Chesterfield. Kolo Toure’s header and a trademark Thierry Henry strike made it 3-0 just after half-time. Although Harry Kewell did pull a late consolation back for the hosts, Kanu’s second of the afternoon ensured a 4-1 win for Arsenal who blew Leeds apart. Terry Venables’ side had lost four of their first eight matches, whilst Arsenal maintained their two-point lead at the top.

Like the men from north London, Liverpool FC were still unbeaten too and they responded later that afternoon with their own masterclass away from home. Manchester City had no answer for the Reds and in particular, Michael Owen. Owen had made an indifferent start to the 2002-2003 campaign, scoring just once and that was from the penalty spot against Newcastle United. However, he rediscovered his scoring touch on Liverpool’s last league visit to Maine Road. Owen scored a hat-trick in Liverpool’s 3-0 victory.

In total, there were seven away victories across the weekend, making a complete mockery of the term ‘home advantage.’ One of the most impressive performances came from Middlesbrough who ran out convincing 3-0 winners at White Hart Lane over Tottenham Hotspur. Massimo Maccarone, Geremi and Joseph Desire-Job all scored and Boro had quietly asserted themselves into the Premier League’s top three. Having topped the table themselves in August, Tottenham had dropped to sixth and lost three of their last four matches. It looked set to be another inconsistent season for Glenn Hoddle and his troops.

Although they hadn’t found their peak form yet, Manchester United were just six points off the early pacesetters. They recovered from a Claus Jensen blockbuster to defeat Charlton Athletic 3-1 at The Valley and record their first win away from Old Trafford in the season. Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Ruud van Nistelrooy were all on-target for the visitors.

Chelsea dropped to fifth after losing their first Premier League match of the season. Once again, Paolo Di Canio was the man who caused them problems. Di Canio had taken a real liking to playing Chelsea throughout his career and he was at it again at Stamford Bridge, spearheading West Ham United to a 3-2 victory and their first win of the season. The maverick Italian scored twice, including the winner of September’s Goal of the Month but it wasn’t enough to lift the Hammers off the foot of the Premier League table.

Southampton remained in the bottom three after eight games after conceding a 90th minute equaliser to Youri Djorkaeff of Bolton Wanderers in a 1-1 draw between the sides at The Reebok Stadium. Lastly, Sunderland achieved a rare victory as David Bellion’s 70th minute goal defeated Aston Villa 1-0 at The Stadium of Light. The win would turn out to be Peter Reid’s final home match as manager. He parted company with the club 10 days later.

What else happened in September 2002?

  • The first anniversary of the September 11th 2001 attacks is marked by many services and memorials across the United States.
  • The body of the abducted British schoolgirl Amanda Dowler is found in remote woodland near Hampshire.
  • An earthquake is felt in Dudley which causes minor structural damage but no injuries. It is the biggest earthquake to strike the UK in 12 years, registering 4.7 on the Richter scale.
  • Switzerland becomes a full member of the United Nations.
  • Serena Williams and Pete Sampras win the singles’ events at the US Open. In Sampras’ case, his win over Andre Agassi is his 14th Grand Slam – the last of his phenomenal career.
  • Team Europe claims back The Ryder Cup from the United States at The Belfry in the first tournament of the 21st century. It had been postponed in 2001 due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  • ‘Top of the Pops’ airs its 2000th edition.

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