Arsenal back on top
October 26 , 2003
Charlton 1 Arsenal 1
Thierry Henry sent Arsenal back to the top of the Premiership with a stunning free-kick to secure a point at Charlton.
The Gunners needed at least a draw to return to the top after Chelsea's victory over Manchester City on Saturday.
And that is exactly what they got after Henry hauled them back following a controversial Paolo di Canio penalty.
Di Canio produced a cheeky finish from the spot after Lauren was harshly judged to have fouled Matt Holland.
But Henry proved even more deadly from outside the box as he struck a brilliant free-kick to equalise six minutes before half-time.
Ray Parlour was fouled by Scott Parker on the edge of the penalty area and Henry somehow spotted a gap as he bent his free-kick into the top right-hand corner.
The French striker produced something of a one-man show for the visitors, who remain the only unbeaten side in English league football.
Henry had already thudded a left-foot shot against the inside of a post on 33 minutes before his stunning free-kick.
And, in first-half stoppage time, Henry bent another free-kick into the side netting after Herman Hreidarsson had foolishly felled Freddie Ljungberg on the edge of the box.
Charlton had snatched the advantage on 27 minutes following their best spell of pressure in the first half.
Scott Parker's shot deflected wide off Sol Campbell, who had given the ball away under pressure from the lively Di Canio.
Arsenal failed to clear their lines from the corner and Holland pounced on the loose ball before tumbling over the legs of the static Lauren.
The visitors' protests were in vain and Di Canio waited for goalkeeper Jens Lehmann to commit himself to the dive before chipping a delicate spot-kick straight down the middle of the goal.
But the home side, deflated by Henry's free-kick, then suffered another massive blow with the loss of Di Canio through injury on the stroke of half-time.
The Italian appeared to tweak a hamstring as he stretched for a high ball on the touchline and was instantly replaced by Jason Euell.
Despite Di Canio's loss, Charlton continued to play their part in a highly-entertaining game throughout the second half, with rampaging full-back Radostin Kishishev outstanding for Alan Curbishley's side.
Euell was inches away from stabbing home a loose ball before Kolo Toure recovered to poke over his own crossbar.
And, from the resulting corner, Hreidarsson saw a downward header pushed over by the alert Lehmann.
But Arsenal were good value for their point - and might have snatched all three when substitute Kanu tiptoed his way into the penalty area but then shot straight at goalkeeper Dean Kiely with Henry screaming for a pass.
The result meant both teams missed the chance of making it four successive Premiership wins but extends Arsenal's unbeaten run in London derbies to 22 since Charlton beat them 4-2 at Highbury two seasons ago.