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February 2004 Results & Match Reports

February was a truly spectacular month for Arsenal as the Gunners gained wonderful momentum in their charge to the Premier League title with four wins out of four, with an away victory over Chelsea the standout result.

Their great run of form meant that Arsene Wenger’s men were able to take a commanding nine point lead over Manchester United and Chelsea at the top of the table, and it certainly handed the Gunners the belief that they could go on to lift the title.

Apart from their brilliant run in the league, Arsenal managed to put one foot in the quarter finals of the Champions League as well with a first leg victory over Celta Vigo away from home and also progressed into the quarter finals of the FA Cup by defeating Chelsea once again.

However, it was not quite the perfect month for the Gunners as they were dumped out of the League Cup after suffering defeat against Middlesbrough in the second leg of the semi finals.

1/2/2004 – Arsenal 2 – 1 Manchester City, Venue – Highbury

Arsenal began the month with another victory in the Premier League, this time over Manchester City. The Gunners were handed the perfect start as it was the unfortunate Michael Tarnat who turned the ball into his own net following a wonderful move by the home side in the 7th minute.

It was a bruising encounter in difficult conditions following the opener and Arsenal only managed to seal the game in the 83rd minute with a quite magnificent strike from Thierry Henry.

Former Gunner Nicolas Anelka did score one for City late into the game but was almost immediately red carded for being involved in a mêlée after attempting to retrieve the ball quickly. Arsenal held on at the end though to claim a vital three points.

3/2/2004 – Middlesbrough 2 – 1 Arsenal, Venue – Riverside Stadium (League Cup)

Almost immediately after their victory over Manchester City, Arsenal had to shift their focus back to the League Cup semi final against Middlesbrough and look to overturn a one goal deficit from the first leg.

Wenger fielded a much stronger team this time around but it was to no avail as Arsenal again slipped to defeat and were dumped out of the competition.

After a tight first half, Arsenal shot themselves in the foot after Martin Keown was sent off for a professional foul on Massimo Maccarone on the stroke of half time. Arsenal predictably struggled with ten men after the interval and went behind on the 69th minute as Boudewijn Zenden consolidated Boro’s first leg lead with a delightful chip.

While the Gunners did show a lot of heart to find the equalizer through Edu, a horrible miskick into his own net by Jose Antonio Reyes late on in the game meant that the favourites were dumped out.

7/2/2004 – Wolverhampton 1 – 3 Arsenal, Venue – Molineux

The elimination from the League Cup was certainly disappointing but Arsenal could not afford to feel sorry for themselves as they had to concentrate on the task at hand in the Premier League to maintain their lead at the top as well as their fine unbeaten run.

And, the Gunners did exactly that with a convincing 3-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers. Dennis Bergkamp sent Arsenal on their way with a fine finish in the 9th minute but the home side soon hit back through an instinctive strike from Ionel Ganea.

The two teams went into the interval level but Arsenal took the lead once again through Thierry Henry on the hour mark before Kolo Toure sealed the victory for the Gunners five minutes later.

10/2/2004 – Arsenal 2 – 0 Southampton, Venue – Highbury

Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Southampton was all about one man – Thierry Henry. The Frenchman had arguably been the best player in the world during the time and managed a wonderful milestone by grabbing his 100th Premier League goal for Arsenal against the Saints.

Henry did not have to wait long to get his landmark goal as he raced past the Southampton defence to slot home on the half-and-hour mark to hand his side the lead.

Arsenal were made to work hard to grab the second though and only managed to seal the game in the 90th minute through Henry again as the star striker displayed wonderful composure inside the box to curl the ball home beyond the reach of Antti Niemi to bring about a fitting end to a memorable night for the Frenchman.

15/2/2004 – Arsenal 2 – 1 Chelsea, Venue – Highbury (FA Cup)

Arsenal were drawn against rivals Chelsea in the fifth round of the FA Cup and the Gunners would be looking to knock out the Blues from the competition for the fourth year running.

However, things did not get off to a good start for Arsenal as Adrian Mutu magnificently handed Chelsea the lead in the 40th minute.

It was certainly an uphill task for Arsenal in the second half but a new hero in Jose Antonio Reyes emerged to swing the match in the Gunners’ favour.

The young Spaniard grabbed the equalizer with wonderful strike in the 55th minute before completely turning the game on its head with another goal just five minutes later.

Arsenal held on to grab a memorable win - for Reyes in particular and once again dump out Chelsea from the FA Cup.

21/2/2004 – Chelsea 1 – 2 Arsenal, Venue – Stamford Bridge

After losing out in the FA Cup few days ago, Chelsea were desperate to make amends against Arsenal in the Premier League and cut down the Gunners’ lead at the top of the table.

However, the Blues were once again outclassed by Arsenal as Arsene Wenger’s men turned on the style to claim a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea got off to a dream start after Eider Gudjohnson slotted home from a Geremi cross after only 27 seconds on the clock.

The home side’s lead did not last too long though as Arsenal equalized in the 15th minute through Patrick Vieria’s first goal of the season. The Gunners soon took the lead in the 21st minute, as Edu capitalized after Chelsea goalkeeper Neil Sullivan made a hash of a corner.

Then Chelsea’s task was made all the more difficult after Eidur Gudjohnson got himself sent off in the 41st minute of the game. While the Blues did fight valiantly after going down to 10 men, they could not score the equalizer and the victory for Arsenal meant that they took a huge step towards strengthening their grip on the Premier League title.

24/2/2004 – Celta Vigo 2 – 3 Arsenal, Venue – Balaídos (UCL)

Arsenal took a huge step towards winning the title with their victory over Chelsea and now had to shift their attention to the Champions League knockout stages. The Gunners were drawn against Spanish side Celta Vigo and considering their poor record in Spain, it was surely not going to be an easy tie.

And so it proved to be as Arsenal had to fight hard to claim a 3-2 victory. Edu handed Arsenal a fine start by bundling the ball home in the 18th minute but Celta’s very own Edu equalized just a few minutes later with a fine header.

Arsenal reestablished their lead in the second half through Edu once again and it was certainly a strike to remember as the Brazilian displayed wonderful footwork before delightfully curling home from 25 yards out.

However, the Gunners’ lead did not last very long as Celta equalized once again through José Ignacio just minutes later.

Just when the match looked set to be heading for a draw though, Roberto Pires handed the away side the victory with a fine team goal in the 80th minute and his side a huge advantage heading into the return leg.

28/2/2004 – Arsenal 2-1 Charlton Athletic, Venue – Highbury

Arsenal capped off their perfect February with an impressive win over high flying Charlton Athletic. The Gunners got off to a flying start as Robert Pires and Thierry Henry handed the hosts a two goal lead within the first four minutes of the game.

It looked like Arsenal would go on to romp their way to victory from that point on but it did not prove to be the case as Charlton put in a spirited display and turned the game into a real contest.

Claus Jensen scored from a glorious free kick in the 59th minute and Arsenal were in for a very nervy last half an hour. The Gunners held on though and extended their lead at the top of the table to nine points.








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February 2004 Results

League Table

Player Of The Month: Edu

The star of the month for Arsenal was undoubtedly Edu. The Brazilian midfielder was simply sensational throughout February and scored four goals – all of them very important ones.

It was his strike that handed Arsenal the victory away to Chelsea, while his virtuoso performance in the Champions League against Celta Vigo will live long in the memory as one of the finest in the competition.

Apart from his goals, Edu was a constant menace to opposition defenders from midfield and fully deserved the Barclays Player of the month award.