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Anorak | Les Champions

Les Champions

by | 26th, April 2004

‘ARSENAL duly won the Premiership title at the home of their north London rivals yesterday with four games to go and with a zero in their losses column.

‘Are you watching, Tottenham?’

But somehow the inevitability of the Gunners’ triumph, combined with a lacklustre display in the second-half, took a bit of the gloss of the occasion.

The game itself ended 2-2, although Spurs had a complacent opposition and Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann to thank for their point.

The Sun celebrates Arsenal’s achievement on its back page, but inside brands the German a “loony” for conceding a late penalty that allowed Spurs to equalise.

The other papers all echo Spurs’ manager David Pleat assessment that Arsenal are “the worthiest champions for some time”.

However, the Mail’s Jeff Powell wonders aloud whether the French influence at Highbury is good for the English game or, more specifically, the England team.

Most people would concede that the standard of football in the Premiership has risen markedly with the recent influx of foreigners over the past few years.

And there has been a consequent upsurge in the quality of the England team as a result.

But Powell will never be truly happy until England win the World Cup again under an English manager with a team drawn from a wholly English league (with maybe a couple of Carlos Kickaballs to represent such foreign concepts as diving and feigning injury).

The good news for Powell and for England is that the Express believes that Steven Gerrard is now the Premiership’s top midfield enforcer after outplaying Roy Keane in Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Old Trafford.

Quite where that leaves Patrick Vieira we don’t know, although the Sun’s Steven Howard believes Arsenal wouldn’t have won the title without their captain.

“For commitment, leadership and pure athleticism week-in, week-out,” he says, “there has been nothing to beat Vieira this year.”

However, the Guardian asks four former Gunners to select their best ever Arsenal side and the only player to make all four starting XIs is Thierry Henry, voted PFA Player Of The Year for the second year in a row last night.

Vieira makes it into three XIs, as does George Armstrong and Liam Brady, while Sol Campbell, Ian Wright, Denis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Tony Adams and Pat Rice make two.

Perry Groves is overlooked, once more…’



Posted: 26th, April 2004 | In: Back pages Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink