Arsenal get on top with Man U

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> A convincing four-one victory over Middlesbrough at Highbury on Saturday saw Arsenal at the top of the Premier League.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
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A convincing four-one victory over Middlesbrough at Highbury on Saturday saw Arsenal knock champions Manchester United off the top of the Premier League - but only on alphabetical order. With United hosting Newcastle on Sunday, a Thierry Henry penalty, an own-goal by Boro's French defender Franck Queudrue and second-half strikes from Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg took Arsenal to 49 points, alongside United with exactly the same total, goal difference and goals scored. A penalty in the closing minutes from Massimo Maccarone was of little consolation for Steve McClaren's side, who have slipped down to 14th. The Gunners had stormed into an early lead in the reverse fixture at the Riverside in August - which they won 4-0 - and their first chance at Highbury came after just 40 seconds as Patrick Vieira put Jeremie Aliadiere clear. But the young Frenchman was denied by Mark Schwarzer. Arsenal's near constant pressure finally told in the 37th minute, as Vieira was clipped by Ugo Ehiogu as he strode into the penalty area. Danny Mills tried his best to put Henry off his penalty. It was no surprise, therefore, that it was in Mills' face that Henry celebrated after scoring. 1-0 became 2-0 on the stroke of half-time, confusion reigning in the Boro defence as Franck Queudrue haplessly diverted Henry's free-kick into his own net. Harsh on the French defender, maybe, but Arsenal's lead at the break was a fair reflection of their dominance. 12 minutes into the second half, the normally reliable figure of Gareth Southgate was found wanting. The defender's miskicked clearance from Henry's cross presented the ball straight to Pires, who made no mistake from eight yards (7.32 metres) out. In the 68th minute, Freddie Ljungberg then pounced onto a lay-off from Kanu after the Nigerian striker had evaded the attentions of three markers to make it 4-0. With the result beyond doubt, Arsenal relaxed enough to allow the visitors a goal of scant consolation with four minutes left. Massimo Maccarone was brought down by Lehmann and got up to fire home the penalty. There was little to smile about for Steve McClaren, though. Boro have slipped to 14th, while, with Manchester United not playing until Sunday, Arsenal go top - but only by alphabetical order. (AP)

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