Football: Canny Kanu unlocks stubborn Bradford

Premiership: Arsenal 2 Bradford City 0: Champions display their class as Arsenal regain winning ways and Newcastle flounder

LAST SEASON'S Premiership runners-up proved too strong and skilful for their First Division equivalents at a humid Highbury last night. Yet while they were no doubt content to work Sunday's set-back against Manchester United out of their system, Arsenal may come to view this victory over Bradford as a missed opportunity.

After scoring twice in the opening 17 minutes, during which Dennis Bergkamp and Nwankwo Kanu were at their irresistible best, Arsene Wenger's side failed to translate their superiority into goals. One more would have taken Arsenal into second place behind United again. Instead, they were frustrated by a combination of their own feeble finishing and the defiant goalkeeping of Gary Walsh.

Bradford had not passed through the marble halls on League business since the final day of the 1921-22 season. On that occasion they lost 1-0, a result which confirmed their relegation. This time, Arsenal asserted their dominance so early that there could be no question of sitting on the score-line with which they have become synonymous.

Wenger, whose starting line-up contained just two Englishmen and none of the fabled back four, had reminded his players of their response after they last lost at home. Following that defeat, by Blackburn in December, 1997, they went 29 Highbury games without losing, and the way they tore into Bradford suggested a desire to start a similar sequence .

Kanu, the towering Nigerian with the size 13 feet, was indirectly involved in the first goal and helped himself to the second. After seven minutes, his deft pass to Ray Parlour led to a vicious shot which Walsh did well to push behind. Walsh's respite was short-lived; from the corner, Patrick Vieira rose to head home.

Ten minutes later, after Peter Beagrie had swept past Silvinho on Bradford's left flank, Dean Windass unwisely delayed his shot. Arsenal punished his wastefulness by doubling their advantage.

Bergkamp released Parlour to run at Walsh, whereupon Wayne Jacobs barged the midfielder to the turf. Kanu netted nonchalantly from the spot, but spurned a chance to put the outcome beyond doubt as early as the 32nd minute when he headed over from Parlour's centre.

Therein lay Arsenal's problem. Thierry Henry increasingly shared in some intricate build-ups. Frustratingly for Arsenal, his finishing was less assured, and Walsh was twice able to thwart him before half-time.

At the start of the second half Bradford's manager, Paul Jewell, sent on Stewart McCall to give them a more organised look, and he soon initiated the move which led to Windass forcing Manninger into his first save. Walsh, however, remained far busier than the Austrian, using his legs to deny Bergkamp and Fredrik Ljunberg, efforts which typified Arsenal's lack of ruthlessness.

Even the introduction of Marc Overmars and Davor Suker could not trick them into scoring again. Overmars, sent clear by the Croatian's pass, scuffed wide and rounded off proceedings by clipping the bar.

Wenger expects to welcome back Tony Adams at Liverpool on Saturday, but may be without Kanu, who suffered a thigh injury. Jewell, meanwhile, admitted he feared "a cricket score" at one stage, and was disappointed to lose to two set pieces, but must have taken heart from the form of McCall and Walsh for what will surely be a long, hard winter.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Manninger; Vivas, Keown, Grimandi, Silvinho; Parlour, Vieira, Ljungberg, Henry (Overmars, 61); Bergkamp (Suker, 67), Kanu (Upson, 77). Substitutes not used: Dixon, Lukic (gk).

Bradford City (4-4-2): Walsh; Lawrence (Blake, 63), Wetherall, Dreyer, Jacobs; Halle (McCall, h-t), O'Brien, Whalley, Beagrie; Windass, Saunders. Substitutes not used: Myers, Moore, Clarke (gk).

Referee: A Wiley (Burntwood).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

SAP BW BO

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW BO - 6 MONTHS - LONDON London (Gr...

HSE Manger - Solar

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: HSE Mana...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried