Gunners back on track
By Mark Buckingham. Last Updated: 26/12/05 2:37pm
Arsenal ended a torrid run of form after Jose Antonio Reyes' goal earned a 1-0 victory against 10-man Charlton Athletic.
The Gunners headed to The Valley on the back of three consecutive defeats, but started the Christmas programme in perfect fashion thanks to Reyes' second half effort.
Charlton, who were indebted to Thomas Myhre for keeping the score down, played the final 20 minutes a man light after Danny Murphy was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Myhre was making his Premiership debut for Charlton and had a simple first touch when saving an ambitious long-range effort from Gilberto Silva.
After weathering an early bout of Arsenal pressure, the much-changed Addicks came into the game, with the inventive Murphy seeing his clever chip just go over.
Freddie Ljungberg pinched the ball off the toes of Bryan Hughes and scampered down the touchline on 14 minutes, but his sweeping cross was too far in front of Thierry Henry.
Murphy's cross was then missed by Gonzalo Sorondo, but struck Hermann Hreidarsson, only to fall unkindly for the Icelandic defender, while Shaun Bartlett sliced one attempt out for a throw-in.
Arsenal had the best chance of the half on 22 minutes after a lightning move from their own half. Reyes was heavily involved and supplied the releasing pass to Ljungberg.
The Swede was clean through on goal, but lacked confidence as he approached Myhre and the fellow Scandinavian saved Ljungberg's shot with his legs.
Myhre rescued Charlton again on the half-hour after pushing Henry's intuitive header into the air, with Jonathan Fortune racing back to hack the ball clear of the lurking Ljungberg.
Henry then vented his frustration by blasting a 40-yard free kick over, after referee Steve Bennett awarded Arsenal a foul, as the Gunners captain wanted play to continue.
Charlton's clearest chance came just before half time when Bartlett sent Darren Bent into the clear, but he hesitated in shooting and Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure combined to tackle the striker.
In injury time, Henry saw his free kick brush the top of the crossbar after Murphy had been booked.
Arsenal continued that momentum at the start of the second half and only some desperate defending kept the scoreline level on 47 minutes.
Reyes' pull back was diverted into the path of Henry by Sorondo and when the French striker unleashed his shot, Luke Young got in a timely block.
The reprieve lasted only until the 58th minute when Arsenal finally converted one of their chances. Ljungberg slipped a brilliant pass into the run of Henry, who was firstly denied by a fine tackle from Sorondo.
The ball remained under Henry's control and his shot from a tight angle was saved by Myhre's legs, but it looped into the air and across the six-yard box where Reyes was waiting to apply the finish.
Charlton struggled to create chances after conceding the goal and were dealt a major setback 20 minutes from time when Murphy picked up his second yellow card for a blatant show of dissent in front of Bennett.
The visitors were then content to see out the game as they maintained possession and kept a Charlton side lacking in ideas at arm's length.
Substitute Robert Pires could have added a second goal after racing on to a fine pass from Henry, but was thwarted by the onrushing Myhre.
Myhre, fully justifying manager Alan Curbishley's decision to select him, proved his worth again on 84 minutes with a flying save from Henry's free kick.
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|Charlton Athletic||Team Statistics||Arsenal|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|1||Shots on Target||7|
|8||Shots off Target||8|
Barclays Premier League
Mon 26th Dec
Charlton0 - 1Arsenal
Tottenham2 - 0Birmingham
Chelsea3 - 2Fulham
Man Utd3 - 0West Brom
Liverpool2 - 0Newcastle
Portsmouth1 - 1West Ham
Middlesbro'0 - 2Blackburn
Wigan4 - 3Man City
Sunderland0 - 0Bolton
A Villa4 - 0Everton
Barclays Premier League
|10||West Ham United||28||31|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||28||25|