Joey Barton slides in on Patrick Vieira as Arsenal are cruising 4-0 at St James Park after a brace from Bergkamp, a 40 second opener from Henry and a header from
. Vieira gets to his feet, and towers above Barton wagging a finger at him all the while giving an imperious stare. Gilberto, Cole and Parlour make Barton aware in no uncertain terms that his card is marked. Even the normally placid Toure gets involved in the scuffle. Campbell
Not long after
benefit from a dodgy decision and as Jens Lehman holds onto the ball he has retrieved from the back of the net Barton and Nolan try to claim it. Jens causes a commotion in the goal mouth and Nolan and Barton soon find themselves buffeted by Keown, Campbell and Lauren, Barton instinctively lashes out and finds himself sent off. After play is eventually resumed, Arsenal make it 5-1 against ten man Newcastle through some scintillating forward play from Pires who finds Bergkamp who in turn plays a killer ball for Freddie to slot home past the bamboozled Newcastle keeper. Newcastle
With only ten minutes left Henry, Ljungberg and Bergkamp are replaced by Edu, Wiltord and Reyes as a sixth goal is added from the penalty spot as a clumsy challenge is made on the fleet footed Reyes. Captain and man of the match Vieira steps up and slots coolly home. With the final whistle The Arsenal side form a huddle in the centre circle safe in the knowledge that they have closed the gap on leaders Manchester United. If United drop points in the later kick off against Wolves Vieira and company could find themselves within two points of the top spot.