Arsenal 2 Coventry 0
Ian Wright has his place in Arsenal history within his grasp after sinking
Coventry with a sensational display of predatory finishing.
He struck twice to take his Arsenal tally to 177 in six amazing years - 260
appearances - and move within one goal of equalling winger Cliff Bastin's
50-year-old club record of 178 goals either side of the Second World War.
It also takes Arsene Wenger's Gallic concoction to the top of the Premiership
and no-one can doubt that they are serious challengers for Manchester United's
This was supposed to be the night Highbury got its first glimpse of its
Continental future with the latest pair of Arsene Wenger's five Frenchmen making
their debuts, alongside new Dutch winger Marc Overmars.
But the accent remains firmly Cockney, the everlasting 33-year-old Wright
simply refusing to concede his place at the heart of the north London club.
His enduring enthusiasm is matched by pace that the years have yet to daunt,
and a thirst for glory that he hopes, at this late stage, will help him lose the
He has been adopted by the Football Association for a series of adverts
publicising their work, but he sent another sort of message to the
Lancaster Gate address he knows so well.
He has his sights firmly on the World Cup and Alan Shearer's vacant shirt
against Moldova next month and has started the season in the sort of form Glenn
Hoddle will find hard to ignore.
He scored in the 1-1 draw at Leeds on Saturday and withstood a battering by
the Coventry defence to set the goalden boot pace.
When Overmars slipped a short corner to Remi Garde in the 30th minute, the Sky
Blues were relieved when young defender Scott Marshall's header thumped against
the inside of Ogrizovic's left hand post.
But the ball flew out to Bergkamp who set up Vieira for a low screamer that
Ogrizovic could not hold and before he could recover, Wright's razor-sharp
reflexes had cut the loose ball beyond him.
But Wright's 46th-minute goal also had all the hallmarks of his game.
Former Crystal Palace team-mate Richard Shaw will long be haunted by his
miscue as he tried to steer Petit's long through ball back to Ogrizovic from 40
Before he could recover Wright was past him like a greyhound, haring clear and
then, as the goalkeeper narrowed the gap, showing an ice-cold killer touch to
precisely steer the ball wide of his grasp and perfectly inside the far post.
Coventry, buoyed by their opening day 3-2 win over those other London
importers Chelsea, simply had no answer.
Arsene Wenger, who unveiled Petit and Gilles Grimandi alongside fellow
Frenchmen Patrick Vieira and Garde against Coventry, extended the cross-Channel
influence with Overmars alongside his Dutch compatriot Dennis Bergkamp.
And Coventry reeled backwards against the attacking options Arsene gave
Arsenal by his bold decision to go man for man on Saturday's hat-trick hero Dion
Dublin and partner Darren Huckerby.
It put a lot on the shoulders of young Marshall and Grimandi but allowed Garde
and Winterburn to operate as spare midfielders in a notional 4-4-2 formation,
while his wingers really burnt up the flanks.
Overmars had looked blunted by his long injury battle in the pre-season games.
But he showed his old acceleration in the 17th minute to get round the back and
plant a tempting cross on to the right boot of Bergkamp. The volley flew wide, a
Overmars was being given a rough ride by Gary Breen, who twice took him out
off the ball.
But with the long-haired Petit flowing elegantly through midfield where Vieira
quickly stamped his authority, and Parlour matching both work-rate and skill
factor on the right, there was only ever going to be one winner.
After Wright's goal he was caught hard and late by Shaw, who was booked, and
then lay in agony after landing heavily on his back in a collision with Paul
But on both occasions he showed the new sporting image he is trying to
cultivate, accepting his opponents' apologies and handshakes.
From Bergkamp's free kick after the first incident, Marshall was again
desperately close to scoring with a back post header.
Wenger gave former England captain David Platt a sentimental run-out before
tomorrow's planned signing for Middlesbrough, but his arrival moments after the
second goals was greeted with widespread boos.
Bergkamp should have put the seal on a fine win, but after Overmars skipped
between Breen and Paul Telfer to cross low, his fellow countryman burst on to
the ball but hooked it over from just four yards.
He went much closer with a screaming free kick that Ogrizovic touched over,
but his save was not recognised by referee Keith Burge who also booked Williams,
Telfer and Garde.
Arsenal: Seaman, Winterburn, Vieira, Marshall, Wright, Bergkamp, Overmars, Parlour, Petit, Grimandi, Garde.
Anelka, Upson, Hughes, Lukic.
Coventry: Ogrizovic, Shaw, Burrows, Williams, Breen, Huckerby,Dublin, McAllister, Salako, Telfer, Soltvedt.
Lightbourne, Richardson, Boland, Hall.
Referee: K W Burge (Tonypandy)