Football: Arsenal out to deny Mellor fun and games: Trevor Haylett looks forward to the weekend's matches

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The Independent Online
A WEEK that began with Vinny's size 12's booting the game further into the gutter, and then saw Leeds United's opposition seemingly incapable of reading the European Cup rules, reaches a bizarre conclusion this afternoon with David Mellor (one-time Cabinet minister and noted Chelsea fan) providing a match commentary from London's match of the day.

Mellor, whose fall has been at least as spectacular as his side's former goalkeeper, Dave Beasant, will be at Highbury armed with a mobile phone (despite any unfortunate associations that may conjure up), relaying to BSkyB viewers his thoughts as his favourite blue shirts take on Arsenal.

There should be plenty to talk about. Highbury games between the two teams are traditionally lively affairs. A year ago it finished 3-2 in favour of Arsenal after Chelsea had established an early two-goal advantage. Two years ago the Gunners won 4-1.

Something akin to that today would delight George Graham but he will not guarantee another afternoon of knockabout entertainment, even if the former Minister for Fun is part of the crowd.

Answering his supporters' demands for a regular sight of Anders Limpar, Graham said: 'Fans have to realise my priority is winning matches rather than playing pretty football. We'd all like to win with style but that isn't always possible in our game. I still think the Premier League is wide open and any team that puts a run together can quickly leap into contention in our topsy-turvy table. We need to dig in and find some consistency.'

Having dug in for a point at Coventry in last week's who-would-have-guessed-it Premier League summit meeting, the leaders Norwich once more have to travel to the side who most closely threaten their lofty perch. The challenge this time comes from Blackburn, who overtook Coventry by virtue of their fourth home win of the season and yet another Alan Shearer goal.

It was this time last year that Leeds United met their first defeat away from Elland Road, to be precise their first defeat anywhere, a 1-0 reverse at Crystal Palace, one of only four suffered all season.

Game No 11 of the Premier League finds them at Ipswich and looking for their first win on their travels. After Stuttgart's gaffe on Wednesday Howard Wilkinson, the Leeds manager, can surely no longer sound an echo of the Revie-era by bemoaning their bad luck and Leeds will be confident of breaking their duck against a home team hamstrung by their high number of drawn games.

It is probably fortunate for all concerned that Wimbledon's Vinny Jones is idle today. He was sent off on his home debut for abuse of an opponent - one of the aspects of the so-called hard man's armoury he revealed on that video. A three-match suspension rules him out of the home game with emerging Aston Villa.

Having beaten the presently imperfect Liverpool last week, Wimbledon have the chance to do a quick double of sorts against the Liverpool cast-offs but, Vinny-less, they are assured of a rigorous test.

Middlesbrough were the last to suffer at the hands of Villa's burgeoning confidence and they have the chance to make immediate amends when they play host to Manchester United, who may well bring a Russian hangover with them to Ayresome Park.

England's two clear winners in Europe, Liverpool and Sheffield Wednesday, meet at Anfield with the home side seeking to end a run of three successive Premier League defeats.

Newcastle's designs on the record for the longest winning start to the season - Reading managed 13 in 1985 but ambitiously Kevin Keegan says his real ambition is to match Milan's unbeaten league season of 1991-92 - meets its latest examination at Brentford tomorrow. It is the first time the sides have met in the Football League since 1948.

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