GGM 17: Wenger completes his first Double

Nearly two weeks had elapsed since the Club's first Premiership title was secured, but smiles were still plastered over the faces of Arsenal fans as they strolled up Wembley Way in May 1998 for a date with destiny.

Two defeats were fresh in the memory as Arsène Wenger's side took its foot off the pedal with the championship in the bag. Needless to say they were back in the groove for the big one against Newcastle.

Arsenal were short of their brilliant best but still had far too much for Kenny Dalglish's side. A goal in either half clinched the Club's seventh FA Cup and its second Double.

The first arrived after 23 minutes. Neither side had created much in a cagey first quarter before Emmanuel Petit picked out Marc Overmars' darting run on the blind side of Alessandro Pistone. The Dutch winger outstripped his marker and poked the ball past keeper Shay Given.

Newcastle threatened briefly after the break when Alan Shearer and Nikos Dabizas both went close to an equaliser. But their hopes were all but dashed with 21 minutes left. Nicolas Anelka beat the offside trap to collect Ray Parlour's pass and, in acres of space, beat Given with an emphatic finish.

Parlour, named Man of the Match after a tireless performance in midfield, went close to a goal of his own but found the side-netting. Then Overmars almost caught Given off his line with an audacious chip from 40 yards.

The final whistle confirmed Arsenal's status as English football's finest and further vindicated the decision in 1996 to appoint Wenger as manager. The Frenchman was a virtual unknown when he arrived; a Double in his first full season silenced any remaining doubters.

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