FOOTBALL: FREDDIE STAR OF THE SHOW.(Sport)
Byline: BRIAN McNALLY
ARSENAL dominated our second annual Fans' Awards by claiming top spot in five categories, including Player, Manager and Team of the Season.
The Double-winning Gunners repeated last year's nap hand by Liverpool to take pole position in the 2002 Fanzone Awards run in conjunction with the original fans' website www.fromtheterrace.co.uk
Freddie Ljungberg stole in at the death with a flood of crucial goals to pinch Player of the Year in a photo finish from Highbury colleagues Robert Pires and Thierry Henry.
Ljungberg, now on duty with Sweden's World Cup squad, will receive his award, sponsored by mobile phone specialists T Mobile, at a special pre- season presentation.
The Gunners predictably scooped Team of the Year and not even Newcastle's feat in reaching the Champions League qualifiers and the England team's 5-1 thrashing of Germany on the way to World Cup qualification could halt the Highbury landslide.
The closest race was in Young Player of the Year, where Blackburn's exciting Republic of Ireland winger Damien Duff inherited the crown won last season by Steven Gerrard.
But Newcastle's Craig Bellamy, Liverpool's John Arne Riise and Michael Owen and young England stars Wayne Bridge, Ashley and Joe Cole and Darius Vassell all picked up a respectable share of the vote.
Arsene Wenger ran away with Manager of the Year but there was a decent vote for Newcastle veteran Bobby Robson as well as England boss Sven Goran Eriksson.
About 60 per cent of voters nominated Dennis Bergkamp's stunning strike in Arsenal's 2-0 Premiership win at Newcastle as Goal of the Season.
But there was also support for Gianfranco Zola's spectacular effort in Chelsea's FA Cup clash with Norwich City and David Beckham's glorious free-kick against Greece.
Newcastle keeper Shay Given snatched Save of the Season for a series of brilliant stops in the Republic of Ireland's World Cup qualifying win in Iran.
The less successful clubs in the Premiership gained the most support in the Best Opposition Fans category, with Bolton clear-cut winners and relegated Ipswich figuring in the top five.
Flop of the Year brought the most varied voting pattern, even though there was a strong anti-Manchester United bias. Juan Sebastian Veron won his only prize of the season, just ahead of manager Sir Alex Ferguson and mistake-prone keeper Fabien Barthez.
The winner in the fun Best Chant/ Song section, again from Arsenal, was "We love you Freddie because you've got red hair".
But the most votes went to various versions of the "Let's Dance" chart hit, with Liverpool's "John Arne Riise, we wanna know, how you scored that goal?" a popular favourite.
Contact Brian McNally on b.p.mcnally @talk21.com
HOW THE FANS CAST THEIR VOTES
TEAM OF THE SEASON
2 Newcastle United
5 Manchester City
FLOP OF THE SEASON
JUAN SEBASTIAN VERON
1 Juan Sebastian Veron
2 Sir Alex Ferguson
3 Emmanuel Petit
4 Fabien Barthez
5 David O'Leary