Football: Gunners keep their powder dry

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The Independent Online
Arsenal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Queen's Park Rangers. . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

NO NEWS is good news for Arsenal at the moment. Last night's match - the first of four in 10 days before the FA Cup final - produced no major disruption. Even the crowd, Arsenal's second lowest of the season, seemed to be going through the motions. But the news after the match, that Ian Wright will be fit for the Wembley meeting with Sheffield Wednesday, classified as better than good.

Arsenal's manager, George Graham, had berated his players in the programme notes for playing as if their minds were on Wembley in last Saturday's goalless draw at Everton. They did nothing here to indicate that they had altered their approach.

Graham, nevertheless, professed himself pleased at the performance and brushed aside worries over Arsenal's recent poor scoring record. 'I'm not concerned,' he said, 'because we are saving our goals for the Cup.'

While their defence - in which

Allan Miller was giving David Seaman a night off in goal - was generally sound, on last night's showing it was hard to see who would provide the necessary finish. Campbell, at least, got into position to score, despite suffering a cut eye in an early collision with Alan McDonald. His fellow forwards, Alan Smith and Paul Merson, were less in evidence.

Naturally the condition of the absent Wright is of prime concern to all at Highbury. Graham said that Wright had resumed training yesterday and that his broken toe would be sufficiently recovered for him to play in the Cup final.

As an occasion, this match was never quite relaxed - the possibility of another Arsenal man joining the injury list created a querulous undertone. There was thus general relief at Campbell's return after treatment, and his condition had clearly improved by the last minute of the first half, when he turned Clive Wilson two ways before sending in a low drive that Tony Roberts did well to block.

Campbell's perseverance nearly paid off in the last minute, but Roberts made another instinctive save from close range. Perhaps this Arsenal forward really is saving his goals for Wembley.

Arsenal: Miller; Dixon, Keown, Davis, Linighan, Adams, Jensen, Campbell, Smith, Merson (Carter, 84), Heaney. Substitutes not used: Bould, Will (gk).

Queen's Park Rangers: Roberts; Bardsley, Wilson, Wilkins, Peacock, McDonald, Impey, Barker (Brevett, 88), Ferdinand, Allen, Sinton. Substitutes not used: White, Stejskal (gk).

Referee: R Gifford (Mid-Glamorgan).

(Photograph omitted)