Football: One gun solution

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday. . .0

Arsenal. . . . . . . . .1

THAT is the trouble with football these days: no tradition. Names and new numbers on shirts are bad enough, changing the title of the top division every year is worse. But when Arsenal, narrow-eyed traditionalists to the core, begin to deviate from their usual furrow, you ponder the limits of upheaval.

Three games into the new season and the Gunners have been anything but boring (nor lucky, come to think of it). They were thrashed in their one home game to date and have since won two matches away from Highbury that had looked hazardous. Even George Graham, the manager, seemed confused. 'Sometimes you can't analyse these things,' he said.

On Saturday there was very little need for analysis. Arsenal got the goal they required after eight minutes and then played the profligate free spirits rather than the parsimonious misers of their image. Kevin Campbell was twice denied by Chris Woods when given a clear run on the England goalkeeper and there were enough other opportunities for Graham to wonder whether one goal was sufficient reward for the quality of the play.

'Apart from the last 20 minutes, I thought we controlled the match,' he said, 'and with better finishing we would have won by far more. We passed the ball very well, I counted one move of 15 and as you know, Arsenal aren't supposed to be able to pass.'

Campbell certainly got his bearings right with the goal. A tackle on the right gave him possession and he entered the Wednesday area with such menace that three defenders were drawn to him to the neglect of Ian Wright. Campbell dummied to shoot, drew the ball back and then delivered an exquisite pass to his colleague, who had an open goal to aim at.

Wednesday, meanwhile, whose balance was upset by the absence on the right of Chris Waddle and Roland Nilsson, contrived to look elegant away from the area and toothless anywhere near it. One header from Paul Warhust flashed over the bar in the 21st minute but that apart, the home side looked as though they would not have scored if they had 900 minutes to find the target instead of 90.

It was not a propitious time for Andy Sinton to make his Wednesday debut. The former Queen's Park Rangers player looked neat and tidy if not inspiring and whether, at pounds 2.75m, he represents good value will need time and far more from his colleagues to divine. 'He did well,' Trevor Francis said. 'It was always going to be a difficult debut for him.'

Francis was then expected to launch into the one-eyed overview beloved of his peers. 'We deserved to lose,' he said contrarily. 'The performance fell short of what we have come to expect.' The beaten manager's plucking of the best from a barren performance, it was not. And another tradition went out of the window.

Goal: Wright (8) 0-1.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Woods; Worthington, Walker, Pearce, King; Sheridan (Bart-Williams, 67), Palmer; Hyde (Bright, 67), Sinton; Hirst, Warhurst. Substitute not used: Pressman (gk).

Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Keown, Linighan, Adams, Winterburn; McGoldrick, Parlour (Merson, 77), Jensen, Davis; Campbell, Wright. Substitutes not used: Selley, Miller (gk).

Referee: R Hart (Darlington).

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