Game #4672

Season | 2000-01 |

Matchday | #12 |

League Game | #8 |
Premier League Match-week | #8 |
Manager Game | #122 |

Saturday, 14 October 2000

Premier League | Away | Arsenal | Highbury | 38,042 | 

Game Summary

Manager | John Gregory | 

KO | 15.00 |

Referee | Rob Harris | 
HT Score | 0-0 |

FT Score | 0-1 |
FT Result | Lost |

Last 5 Games | WWDWL | 

League Position | 7th | -2 |

Line Up |

GK David James |
LB Alan Wright | 
SUB OFF | 71' |
CB Alpay Özalan | BOOKED | 53' |
CB Gareth Southgate | BOOKED | 42' |
M Gareth Barry | 
M Paul Merson | 
M Ian Taylor | 
M Steve Stone | 
BOOKED | 73' |
M Lee Hendrie | BOOKED | 57' | 66' | SENT OFF | 66' |
CF Dion Dublin | SUB OFF | 70' |
F Julian Joachim | 

Substitutes | 

M George Boateng for CF Dion Dublin | 70’ | 
F Darius Vassell for LB Alan Wright | 71’ |

Unused Substitutes |

CB Ugo Ehiogu
GK Peter Enckelman
F Gilles De Bilde

Cards | 

 Yellow | Gareth Southgate | 42’ |

 Yellow | CB Alpay Özalan | 53’ |

 Yellow | Lee Hendrie | 57’ | 66’ |

 Yellow | Steve Stone | 73’ |
 Red | Lee Hendrie | 66’ |

Team Stats |

Starting XI Average Age | 28.33 | 

Oldest Player | M Paul Merson | 32.59 |

Youngest Player | M Gareth Barry | 19.65 |

Match Report

The Guardian

Sunday, 15 October, 2000

Match Report from Ian Ridley

Now where were we? Arsenal were going impressively, after wins over Lazio and Manchester United.  Aston Villa had taken 10 points from four games to leap up the Premiership table. We expected a feast from two in-form teams. But with some players jaded by two weeks of intense international activity, some rusty from the break, we saw instead a messy match of half-chances poorly finished.

It was settled by the one that was taken, Thierry Henry again making it 1-0 to the Arsenal , as he had done against United, if not quite so spectacularly. There was then no way back for Villa, who had played the neater football for much of the match but again lacked cutting edge, especially when one man short after the belated dismissal of Lee Hendrie by a referee who had forgotten to send him off until his oversight was pointed out to him.

Rob Harris was the ref who allowed Tranmere Rovers to play with 11 men in an FA Cup tie last season after sending one wild Rover off. Yesterday he brandished a second yellow card at Hendrie but it took Arsenal’s Gilles Grimandi to remind him as Hendrie lined up in a wall to face the free-kick. The first offence, for kicking the ball away, had preceded the second, pulling back Robert Pires, by just seven minutes. Mr Harris appears to have the memory of a goldfish. ‘He’s a prat, quite frankly,’ said the Villa manager John Gregory, admirably of his player rather than the referee, though. 

It was all a little harsh on Villa ultimately, though it pointed up the difference between the very top teams of the Premiership and the sides who aspire to be. In Paul Merson, back on the ground where he plied his trade for 12 years, Villa have a player capable of moments of ingenuity but little out of the ordinary as support in the attacking third of the pitch. David Ginola remains injured and short of match fitness. 

By contrast, Arsenal have half a dozen - two of them even starting on the bench in Sylvain Wiltord and Kanu, along with the rested Martin Keown - so that they always look able to turn a match in which they are not at their most fluent. 

They had an early chance, David James saving brilliantly with one hand at his near post a shot by Dennis Bergkamp, but thereafter Ian Taylor, Merson and Hendrie assumed control of midfield, where Patrick Vieira, after his five-match suspension, looked off the pace. 

Duly, Villa carved out some reasonable opportunities. Gareth Southgate, back in towering form for his club in his right position, as one tackle on Henry in full flight showed, twice tested David Seaman, the goalkeeper saving his volley with his legs before tipping away a shot across goal after Southgate had met Merson’s free-kick. 

With Villa protecting possession well and passing the ball accurately, Arsenal were denied the chance to do damage by sending Henry clear, Bergkamp being closed down quickly when on the ball. Frustrated, they were forced to resort to long shots, James clutching to his midriff one 30-yarder by Silvinho. 

Villa needed to score in this purple patch and one sensed they could be made to pay for not doing so. The feeling grew in the second half when Hendrie shot lamely across goal after Julian Joachim had slipped him through and Tay lor missed his kick on the six-yard line. 

And so it happened. Pires pushed the ball forward to Henry in the inside-right channel and he swivelled to send a low shot through Alpay’s legs and into James’s far corner. After that, and Hendrie’s delayed red card, it was clear there would be only one winner. 

It could, too, have been by a bigger margin as Villa left gaps chasing the game. Henry drove just wide, Bergkamp saw his shot clipped over James cleared off the line by Southgate, and Wiltord mis-kicked from 10 yards. 

‘You look at their bench and think, “We can’t match that”,’ lamented Gregory. The answer to the lack of finishing power, he said, is to ‘go out and spend money. We can’t do that’. It does ignore, however, the fact that he has spent considerably on a clutch of average players rather than invested it in one quality striker. 

Arsenal, through Wenger’s acumen, certainly have one, which is one of the reasons they are unbeaten since the first day of the season, with a 100 per cent home record to boot. Even jaded, 15 of their squad having been on international duty, they can eke out results when the spectacular eludes them.


The Guardian

Monday, 16 October, 2000

Match Report from Jon Brodkin

It is one of football’s favourite clichés, much loved by struggling managers, that no one is relegated by Christmas. After embarrassing himself again on Saturday, the referee Rob Harris could discover the saying does not hold true in his case. 

The Oxford official extended his impressive list of recent cock-ups by somehow forgetting he had booked Aston Villa’s Lee Hendrie twice and is now in serious danger of being demoted from the panel of Premier League referees when it is reassessed at the end of next month. 

Harris was removed from the list for a month at the start of the year for allowing Tranmere to substitute a player he had sent off against Sunderland in the FA Cup. But this is the first time mid-season relegation has been introduced and he can hardly be confident of survival. 

A year ago he wrongly dismissed Liverpool’s Steve Staunton, ironically against Villa, for encroaching at a free-kick. At Tottenham in April he was at the centre of more controversy involving John Gregory’s side when he missed a penalty for handball, spotted by his assistant, and seemed ready to send off Stephen Clemence for an offence he had not committed. 

The opposite would have been the case here had Arsenal’s players, led by Gilles Grimandi, not reminded Harris that Hendrie’s foul on Robert Pires had brought him a second caution in nine minutes. Perhaps the official thought he had a didgeridoo rather than a whistle, imagined he was in fact Rolf Harris and had asked: “Can you guess what it is yet?” 

The Premier League is expected to look into the incident today and should consider introducing memory tests, never mind fitness tests, for referees. It will hardly help Harris’s cause that among those watching were Mike Foster and Adrian Cook, the secretary and assistant secretary of the Premier League, as well as the match assessor Gerald Ashby. 

“He’s not a referee,” Gregory said tartly of Harris, adding of the dismissal: “Everyone in the ground knew. There’s a bloody great scoreboard in the corner with a yellow symbol next to Lee’s name.” 

To Villa’s credit they refused to blame Arsenal for reminding Harris of Hendrie’s fate. Gregory described the midfielder as “a prat” for throwing the ball away to earn his first booking and Gareth Southgate’s analysis hinted at the same conclusion. “He’s got to learn,” he said. “He can be a bit tempestuous.”

Harris’ sideshow stole some of the limelight from Thierry Henry, who scored another spectacular winner to put Arsenal level at the top with Manchester United, and the outstanding Southgate. 

Abused by his own fans this season for wanting to leave, misused by Kevin Keegan for 45 minutes against Germany and accused of lacking passion against Finland, the Villa captain performed here as if he had not a care in the world. 

“It’s been a tough week because everyone’s been sniping,” Southgate said. “Ex-players have been having a go at us.” For the snipers who claimed England played without passion Gregory had some simple messages: “absolute tosh” and “quite appalling”. Villa were neither. Indeed, if they had had a cutting edge to go with their organisation and Paul Merson’s inspiration they might have won. 

In the first half in particular Arsenal looked vulnerable and out of sorts. But Henry, as against Manchester United, came to his side’s rescue. 

Given a rare sight of goal from Pires’s pass, he shot expertly across David James and, when Hendrie departed five minutes later, there was no way back for Villa. 

As Henry celebrated his winner and Wenger’s decision to ignore England - “he’s the most important thing to this club” - the striker also hinted at the psychological burden involved in chasing Manchester United. 

“You expect them to win, so that puts you under pressure,” he said. But unlike Harris he knows nothing will be decided by Christmas.