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England round-up: Arsenal extend advantage

Published: Sunday 2 March 2003, 23.30CET
Arsenal FC beat Charlton Athletic FC 2-0 in the Premiership as Liverpool FC won the League Cup final.

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Published: Sunday 2 March 2003, 23.30CET

England round-up: Arsenal extend advantage

Arsenal FC beat Charlton Athletic FC 2-0 in the Premiership as Liverpool FC won the League Cup final.

Champions Arsenal FC moved eight points clear at the top of the Premiership with a comfortable 2-0 home win against Charlton Athletic FC.

Comfortable cushion
In Sunday’s only league game, the league leaders took full advantage of nearest challengers Manchester United FC’s participation in the League Cup final to consolidate their advantage at the head of the table.

First-half goals
The home side were in complete control throughout the match, and first-half goals from Francis Jeffers and Robert Pires proved enough. Charlton performed well in the opening period and managed to resist some consistent Arsenal pressure, with Thierry Henry and Pires both hitting the post early in the game.

Henry influential
The home side took time to settle, but made the breakthrough after Henry accelerated down the left and cross low for Jeffers to sidefoot home from two metres. Charlton came close to equalising immediately, as Kevin Lisbie forced a sharp save from David Seaman, but Arsenal made the game safe shortly before half-time.

Pires makes it two
Henry was again involved, as he burst down the left, and Ljungberg's shot hit the post but the rebound fell to Pires, who headed into the net from close range.

'A solid performance'
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger was pleased with his team’s display, saying: "It was a solid performance from the team and our concentration didn't drop. The team wanted those three points and didn't allow Charlton to get back into it."

Wenger confident
Wenger was also confident his side would go on to retain their title, with their home form proving crucial. "We feel it's down to our Highbury strength," he said. "We have still four games at home, one of those is against Manchester United. There is still a long way to go but we wanted to extend our lead today and we managed it."

Cup success for Liverpool
In the League Cup final, Liverpool FC inflicted a 2-0 defeat on Manchester United FC to secure a place in next season’s UEFA Cup, should they not qualify for the UEFA Champions League. Midfield player Steven Gerrard's 25-metre shot deflected into the net off David Beckham shortly before half-time to give Liverpool the lead, and Michael Owen scored a decisive second five minutes from time.

Last updated: 03/03/03 11.40CET

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