Football: 'Sumo' dumps Arsenal heavyweights

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Arsenal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Coventry City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

'WHO needs Ian Wright when you've got Mickey Quinn?' Who indeed? A hat-trick by the man they call Sumo dumped the Arsenal heavyweights on to their collective backside. For the Gunners it was quite as bewildering as last season's opening-day defeat to Norwich. And it will take all George Graham's management skills to get his side's title ambitions back into focus. Yet Arsenal began playing at full tilt towards their elegant new stand and in the first minute they created two good chances. Tony Adams saw his shot cleared off the line and then Paul Davis blasted an inviting volley into the seats.

Coventry, at that stage, were clearly rattled by the onslaught. Their flexible defence took a blow when Stewart Robson was carried off after ten minutes, while Quinn was booked for protesting to a linesman.

The other target for Coventry mistreatment was Anders Limpar. The Highbury favourite responded to the prospect of Andy Sinton's arrival with a display that was always lively and sometimes inspired; he was everywhere. Arsenal, however, unable to score in front of the mural last season, found it no easier to convert the ball before the new North Bank.

Limpar released Kevin Campbell with one beautifully spun ball out of the Shane Warne manual only to see him volley wide. In the 20th minute the Swede picked out Nigel Winterburn with a delightful crossfield pass and the Arsenal left back rifled a shot which seemed bound for the net, but Coventry's reserve keeper, Jonathan Gould, made a flying save.

It was perhaps the decisive moment of the match. Arsenal's relentless drive was punctured and Coventry's competence began to grow.

The Sky Blues began to show a telling mobility in attack, Peter Ndlovu signalled the mounting danger with a hasty volley at the far post just before the half hour. Five minutes later Coventry went ahead. Lee Dixon was panicked into fouling the Zimbabwean forward inside the area, and Quinn - with his first shot of the match - buried the penalty.

At the other end Quinn's superabundant self-belief was being supported by Roy Wegerle's prodigious skill. Twice in three minutes just after the hour the American mesmerised Arsenal's defence with his footwork before threading the ball through to Quinn. Both passes were smacked with great glee into the top corner.

The arrival of Eddie McGoldrick and Martin Keown did nothing to stem the tide. But Quinn's appetite was sated and he generously passed up a simple chance for a fourth.

Arsenal (4-4-2): D Seaman; L Dixon, A Linighan, T Adams, N Winterburn; A Limpar, J Jensen (M Keown, 73 min), P Davis, P Merson (E McGoldrick, 68 min), I Wright, K Campbell. Sub not used: A Miller (gk). Manager: G Graham.

Coventry City (4-3-3): J Gould; T Sheridan, D Rennie, P Atherton, P Babb; S Robson (S Morgan, 10 min), R Wegerle, S Flynn; J Williams, M Quinn, P Ndlovu. Subs not used: M Harford, T Dalton (gk). Manager: B Gould.

Referee: A B Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).

Goals: Quinn (1-0 pen, 34 min; 2-0, 62 min; 3-0, 65 min).