Goalscorers: Slaven Bilic 6 OG, Marc Overmars 28, 57, Tony Adams 89
Arsenal: David Seaman, Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn, Emmanuel Petit (David Platt 44), Patrick Vieira, Ray Parlour, Marc Overmars, Nicolas Anelka (Ian Wright 72), Christopher Wreh (Steve Bould 80)
Everton: Thomas Myhre, Slaven Bilic (John Oster 46), John O’Kane (Gareth Farrelly 46), Craig Short, Carl Tiler, Dave Watson, Michael Ball, Don Hutchinson, Peter Beagrie (Mickael Madar 46), Nick Barmby, Duncan Ferguson
Referee: Gerald Ashby, Attendance: 38,269
At the end of February 1998, most bookmakers stopped taking bets on the title after Manchester United won at Chelsea to establish a 13-point lead on the chasing pack. However, Arsenal had games in hand and had been plugging away at United’s lead. A 1-0 win at Old Trafford in March had really got their fans believing and they were now cantering towards their first Premier League crown.
Arsene Wenger’s side hosted Everton who were desperate for points at the wrong end of the table. Bolton’s victory over Crystal Palace 24 hours earlier had put Howard Kendall’s Toffees into the bottom three. Arsenal knew that a 10th successive Premier League victory would hand them their first top-flight title since 1991. However, they were missing the influential Dennis Bergkamp whose season had been ended by a hamstring injury five nights earlier against Derby County.
It was set to be a party at Highbury and playing in gorgeous sunshine, Everton were simply no more than bystanders to a day of immense celebrations in the capital. Just six minutes had been played when Arsenal went into the lead. From a free-kick on the right-hand side, Slaven Bilic headed the ball into his own net, under pressure from Arsenal skipper Tony Adams. The Gunners were getting closer and closer to the main prize in English football.
Everton didn’t even manage an attempt on-goal in the first half and went 2-0 down before the half-hour mark. Peter Beagrie lost possession and Marc Overmars ran at a frightened backline. His shot had too much power for Norwegian goalkeeper Thomas Myhre, who got a decent hand on the effort but saw the ball squirm over the line. Had it not been for a couple more decent saves from Myhre to deny Christopher Wreh and Ray Parlour, the scoreline could have been even worse at half-time for the visitors. The only minor negative for Wenger was an injury to Emmanuel Petit which meant he was withdrawn before half-time, to be replaced by David Platt.
Kendall made a triple substitution at half-time but it simply didn’t make any difference to the match. The championship was heading to Arsenal Football Club and they were going to do it in style. The outstanding Overmars burst past Everton captain Watson on 57 minutes, leaving him in his wake before stroking a shot across Myhre’s bows to make it 3-0. The fitting finale was still to come though. Substitute Steve Bould played a wonderful ball over the top of the defence and his centre-back partner Adams had made a surge forward. Picked out by Bould, he delivered an emphatic finish to produce the perfect ending to a sensational afternoon for the Arsenal faithful.
Everton did avoid relegation on the final day of the season on goal difference but this was Arsenal’s day as Adams hoisted the Premier League trophy aloft around half an hour after the final whistle. Their long summer party could now begin as they became only the third team to win the Premier League.