Football: Arsenal's continental drift

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The Independent Online
Arsenal. .3

Wright 39, 63, Campbell 54

Chelsea. .1

Wise 34

Attendance: 38,234

HERE was a chance to spot the Eurosceptics in football's ranks. Both Arsenal and Chelsea have Cup Winners' Cup fixtures on Thursday, creating the possibility of half-hearted efforts in what is now the humdrum circumstances of another London derby.

Although Arsenal won this match well eventually, the game was, in truth, only competitive in each of the 15-minute periods either side of the interval. Chelsea's lead, from a Dennis Wise goal, was quickly obliterated, as Arsenal responded to George Graham's request to 'up the tempo', and Ian Wright, leaving his England form behind, added another two goals to his bulging Arsenal account. More will be expected against Brondby.

Chelsea arrived with the intention of denying Arsenal space, an attitude which was responsible for a soporific first half-hour. Chelsea left Paul Furlong alone up front and invited Arsenal to find a route through their packed midfield. Neither Stefan Schwarz nor John Jensen looked capable of delivering the killing pass, so it was left mainly to the left-back, Nigel Winterburn, to worm his way into the Chelsea defence.

Butafter 34 minutes it was Chelsea who achieved the breakthrough, as they had planned, after a quick break out of defence. Dimitri Kharin's throw found Wise, who spread the ball to Gavin Peacock on the left. His cross to the far post was headed back by Furlong, and Wise tucked the ball under David Seaman.

Within six minutes Arsenal had forced an equaliser, almost inevitably from a set-piece, although the run-up to it deserved a goal. Schwarz had sent Winterburn to the byline and his cross was met by Alan Smith's diving header which Kharin turned round the post at full stretch. But from the resulting corner, the Russian could only flap the ball down to Wright, who volleyed fiercely into the roof of the net.

Both Wright and Winterburn had half-chances in the ensuing minutes, but it was Kevin Campbell who had the best chance, blasting wide after a rebound had left him clear in the six-yard box. Arsenal trotted off looking peeved about having an interval just as they had discovered their attacking touch.

No matter, they picked up where they had left off, pushing forward quickly, and had soon forced another corner, which is as good as a free-kick for Arsenal. Sure enough, Schwarz's kick was knocked down at the far post and Campbell was able to hook the ball in on the turn. Within minutes the third goal had arrived from open play. Winterburn advanced tenaciously on the left and was able to get a low cross in which Wright promptly shot into Kharin's bottom corner.