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"It's just like watching Arsenal," the Clock End sang at one point, and they were right: rarely can Arsenal have been closer to the Platonic ideal of Arsenalness as conceived by Arsène Wenger than they were in beating Everton 7-0 on Wednesday night, Jonathan Wilson reports from Highbury.
Highbury has become used to end of season exhibitions but even in the context of past glories this was something exceptional. One exquisitely weighted pass from Dennis Bergkamp to Robin van Persie after eight minutes captured all that is best about Arsenal; Chelsea may have their edge in the prosaic arts of defending but no other team could produce a moment of such filigree beauty.
Van Persie knocked a first-time finish past Richard Wright and Arsenal were on their way. Three minutes later, Bergkamp, who could hardly have delivered a more compelling case for why he deserves a new contract than his display, swept a pass behind Tony Hibbert for José Antonio Reyes, and although Robert Pires's sidefoot drive from his cross was saved by Wright, he reacted sharply enough to nod the rebound in via the bar.
From then on it was superb, carefree stuff, pinball passes, flicks and backheels, consummate artists having fun with their genius. The third came after 36 minutes, a whirl of possession ending with Bergkamp's clip and Patrick Vieira's chip. Vieira was withdrawn at half-time, presumably with the FA Cup final in mind but, given that Thierry Henry came on as part of a double substitution, it hardly brought respite.
It was Henry's lay-off that bounced off Lee Carsley for Pires to add the fourth, and then the Frenchman whose cross struck Carsley on the arm to win a fortunate spot-kick. Edu drilled his second of the season - a farewell gift in his final game at Highbury. Bergkamp, chasing an uncharacteristic long ball, got the goal he deserved, before Mathieu Flamini thumped in a Reyes pull-back to give Arsenal their biggest win under Wenger.
"Have you ever seen football played like this?" the home fans asked of the Everton contingent. No, can have been the only answer, for this was footballing Elysium.
* The Manchester United duo of Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand will not be named in Sven-Göran Eriksson's England squad for the end-of-season tour of the US but the previously uncapped Southampton forward Peter Crouch will be called up, writes Jonathan Wilson.
"If it were a World Cup I would have insisted all the players went," Eriksson said, "but Sir Alex Ferguson [the United manager] sees Rooney every day and he says the right thing to do is to give him a rest, so I've no problem with that." Ferdinand, meanwhile, "has a bit of a knee problem".
A 20-man squad will travel to Chicago for the match against USA on May 28, with David Beckham, Michael Owen and Owen Hargreaves, who have commitments with their clubs, joining up ahead of the game against Colombia in New Jersey three days later.
Liverpool's Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard, both of whom will be involved in the Champions League final in Istanbul on May 27, will not join the rest of the squad but their reserve goalkeeper Scott Carson could still travel. If he does not, his most likely replacement as cover for Robert Green and David James is the Southampton teenager Paul Smith.
The regular goalkeeper Paul Robinson has a hip problem while Chelsea's Frank Lampard and John Terry had already withdrawn with foot injuries.
The Tottenham midfielder Michael Carrick is the main beneficiary of the absences, his recall coming three years after his last England appearance. Crouch, the 6ft 7in striker, will be included to provide an aerial option. He appears to be in direct competition with Emile Heskey for a place in the 23 for next summer's World Cup finals. Squad (probable): Green (Norwich City), James (Manchester City), Carson (Liverpool) or Smith (Southampton); G Neville (Manchester Utd), G Johnson (Chelsea), A Cole (Arsenal), P Neville (Manchester Utd), Brown (Manchester Utd), Campbell (Arsenal), Upson (Birmingham), King (Tottenham); Beckham (Real Madrid), Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), Downing (Middlesbrough), J Cole (Chelsea), Carrick (Tottenham), Hargreaves (Bayern Munich), Jenas (Newcastle); Smith (Manchester Utd), Defoe (Tottenham), Crouch (Southampton), A Johnson (Crystal Palace), Owen (Real Madrid)
* Tim Henman claimed victory over Greg Rusedski in their absorbing all-British second-round contest at the Hamburg Masters Series on Wednesday. The British number one and fifth seed for the tournament succeeded in beating Rusedski for the second time this year, winning 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 in a match which was interrupted twice by rain.
The 30-year-old Henman, who claimed his seventh ATP Tour victory over the British number two in nine meetings, will now face Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela in the third round.
* Hampshire cricket captain - and Australian bowling legend - Shane Warne hit an unbeaten maiden first-class century at Canterbury, taking his side to a first innings total of 328 against Kent. It was the fastest first-class hundred of the season, coming from only 72 balls in 100 minutes, containing 15 fours and three sixes. He took Hampshire from 130 for seven to 328 all out.
A hat-trick by Charl Langeveldt in the final over secured a dramatic one-run victory for South Africa as they bowled out West Indies for 283 in the third one-day international in Barbados.
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