BY STEVE MITCHELL

ARSENAL GRAB NORTH LONDON BRAGGING RIGHTS AFTER SPURS SUFFER PAIN AT THE LANE:

Arsenal gave their supporters an early Christmas present after they ran out emphatic 5-0 winners in the first North London derby of the season at White Hart Lane this afternoon. After their return to the top-flight in the summer, Spurs fans had been looking forward to this game since the fixtures were announced but by 4.55pm, their optimism had been shattered thanks to a sensational display of attacking football from Terry Neill’s men.

The writing was on the wall for the home side as early as the first minute when Gunners frontman Alan Sunderland latched onto to a dreadful back-pass from John Pratt to fire the visitors in front. Spurs were visibly shaken but almost got themselves back into the contest when Colin Lee wriggled free of big defender Willie Young only to screw his shot across the face of goal with Peter Taylor all alone in the centre.

With Republic of Ireland midfielder Liam Brady in sensational form, Arsenal quickly wrestled back control and doubled their advantage on 38 minutes when Brady’s cross-field pass put in Alan Sunderland who fired home for his second of the afternoon despite goalkeeper Mark Kendall getting a hand to the ball.

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Shortly after the re-start, Sunderland nearly completed his hat-trick but watched as his header cannoned back off the crossbar. Brady was involved again in some great inter-play with Graham Rix whose delightful cross found David Price at the back post but his header was brilliantly saved by the legs of Kendall.

The young custodian could do nothing about Arsenal’s third on 61 minutes however, after another tantalising run and cross from Brady was met by the powerful head of Frank Stapleton to put the result beyond any doubt.

Brady then got his side’s fourth on 65 minutes with what will surely be a contender for goal of the season. The Irishman wrestled the ball away from Taylor and with the outside of his left foot, curled a superb effort past the hapless Kendall.

Now all that was left was to see if Sunderland could complete his hat-trick in front of the Match of the Day cameras and he duly obliged eight minutes from time after Stapleton had flicked on a goal kick from former Spurs custodian Pat Jennings.

It was a match that will live long in the memory for all Gunners fans but more importantly, it keeps them in contention for a shot at the First Division title this term.

WEEK 21 ROUND-UP:

With Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion’s games falling foul of the weather, Everton had the chance to pile on the pressure at the top of the table but were surprisingly beaten at Highfield Road by Coventry City. Ian Wallace, Garry Thompson and Steve Hunt were on target for the Sky Blues, Mick Lyons and Bob Latchford got the Toffees’ consolation.

Bolton Wanderers enjoyed a famous win at Burnden Park against Manchester United on Friday night. A Frank Worthington double and a goal from former United man Alan Gowling gave the Trotters a surprise victory.

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After seeing his side ship seven at Middlesbrough last weekend, new Chelsea boss Danny Blanchflower will be pleased with his side’s goalless draw at Stamford Bridge against Bristol City. The scoreboards were not troubled at the Baseball Ground or Maine Road either as Derby County and Aston Villa drew a blank along with Manchester City and Nottingham Forest.

Leeds United got back to form in front of their fans at Elland Road with a 3-1 win over Middlesbrough. John Hawley was again on target for the West Yorkshire club alongside Eddie Gray and Tony Currie. Mark Proctor grabbed Boro’s consolation.

 

FIRST DIVISION RESULTS – FRIDAY DECEMBER 22:

Birmingham City v Ipswich Town (match postponed)

Bolton Wanderers 3-0 Manchester United (Worthington 2, Gowling)

W.B.A. v Southampton (match postponed)

 

SATURDAY DECEMBER 23:

Chelsea 0-0 Bristol City

Coventry City 3-2 Everton (Wallace, Thompson, Hunt; Lyons, Latchford)

Derby County 0-0 Aston Villa

Leeds United 3-1 Middlesbrough (Hawley, Gray E., Currie; Proctor)

Liverpool v Wolves (match postponed)

Manchester City 0-0 Nottingham Forest

Norwich City v Q.P.R. (match postponed)

Tottenham Hotspur 0-5 Arsenal (Sunderland 3, Stapleton, Brady)

League Division One table after close of play on 23 December 1978

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Liverpool 20 14 3 3 44 9 35 31
2 Everton 20 11 8 1 30 15 15 30
3 West Bromwich Albion 18 11 5 2 36 14 22 27
4 Arsenal 20 10 7 3 35 17 18 27
5 Nottingham Forest 19 8 10 1 20 11 9 26
6 Coventry City 20 9 6 5 28 29 -1 24
7 Manchester United 20 9 6 5 29 31 -2 24
8 Leeds United 21 8 7 6 38 27 11 23
9 Aston Villa 20 7 8 5 24 17 7 22
10 Bristol City 21 8 6 7 23 22 1 22
11 Tottenham Hotspur 20 8 6 6 22 33 -11 22
12 Southampton 20 6 7 7 25 28 -3 19
13 Derby County 21 7 4 10 25 39 -14 18
14 Manchester City 19 5 7 7 26 24 2 17
15 Norwich City 18 4 9 5 29 29 0 17
16 Ipswich Town 20 7 2 11 23 28 -5 16
17 Bolton Wanderers 21 6 4 11 28 40 -12 16
18 Middlesbrough 20 6 3 11 29 30 -1 15
19 Queens Park Rangers 19 4 6 9 15 24 -9 14
20 Chelsea 20 2 5 13 21 43 -22 9
21 Wolverhampton Wanderers 19 4 1 14 14 38 -24 9
22 Birmingham City 20 2 4 14 18 34 -16 8

UPCOMING FIXTURES – TUESDAY DECEMBER 26:

Arsenal v W.B.A.

Aston Villa v Leeds United

Bristol City v Coventry City

Everton v Manchester City

Ipswich Town v Norwich City

Manchester United v Liverpool

Middlesbrough v Bolton Wanderers

Nottingham Forest v Derby County

Q.P.R. v Tottenham Hotspur

Southampton v Chelsea

Wolves v Birmingham City

FOLLOW THE WHOLE 1978-79 SEASON IN THE ENGLISH FIRST DIVISION WITH STEVE MITCHELL HERE ON THE FOOTBALL PINK. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @barafundler

 

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