Football: Horton finds good humour: Suffering goes on at Highbury

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

Manchester City. . .0

EVEN if England had ruled the world on Wednesday to make everything in Graham Taylor's garden look rosy, this game would still have removed smiles and turned faces long. All we were left with after a serious non-event were some feeble attempts at humour which, like the game itself, were as thin as Pizza Hut's finest.

Right now Highbury should be a refuge for toothache sufferers. At least that way you know thousands more are suffering with you. Just 433 short of 30,000 was a remarkable attendance considering, and the best in what has been so far a disappointing Arsenal season despite their Premiership standing.

'What's up, there were a couple of incidents, weren't there?' Brian Horton said. There was one when Tony Coton handled outside his area and sensibly the referee, Roger Milford, showed only a yellow card, a second, possibly, when Niall Quinn turned the ball in from an offside position.

Horton can be excused his satisfaction because a point here is still no mean achievement and a sequence of one defeat in eight is helping to distance the new City manager from initial Maine Road scepticism.

As the home side, the onus was on Arsenal to make the play, but their passing attempts were so poor, and they look such an ordinary side when Ian Wright is misfiring, that all George Graham was left with at the finish were his embarrassing pizza jokes. Two chairs away sat Tony Adams who in that morning's papers had been accused of conspiring while his team-mate Ray Parlour detonated a fire extinguisher in an Essex pizza house.

After a week when English hooligans resurfaced abroad, the last thing the national game required was to wake up to distasteful headlines involving one of its senior players.

Yet Adams, characteristically putting every upset behind him, immediately reclaimed his status as the ultimate club professional, commanding in defence and corralling those team-mates who fail to match his standards. It was those attributes, Graham explained, which put him on the team sheet while other midweek internationals, Paul Merson, John Jensen and Anders Limpar, were rested with an eye on Wednesday's Cup-Winners' Cup second-round first-leg tie with Standard Liege.

'I've spoken to Tony and Ray and I accept what they say,' Graham said. 'Besides which I'm not too keen on pizza myself,' which is not good enough for a respected manager and the custodian of Arsenal's good name and heritage.

Thankfully, City fans saved the day. 'Where were you when Koeman scored?' they chanted at David Seaman. Now that was funny.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Dixon, Linighan, Adams, Winterburn; McGoldrick, Parlour, Davis, Heaney (Campbell, 83); Wright, Smith. Substitutes not used: Keown, Will (gk).

Manchester City (4-4-2): Coton; Edghill, Kernaghan, Curle, Phelan; Lomas, McMahon, Flitcroft, Simpson; Sheron, Quinn. Substitutes not used: D Brightwell, Mike, Dibble (gk).

Referee: R Milford (Bristol).

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