Football: Wright moves closer to record

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The Independent Online
Arsenal 2 Coventry City 0

Football's bible, the Rothmans Yearbook, has only been out a fortnight but one of its oldest records will soon need rewriting. Cliff Bastin's 50-year-old Arsenal goalscoring mark is unlikely to last the end of August after Ian Wright moved within one goal of equalling it last night.

It is a rare achievement in these days of sweepers, five-man defences and offside traps. Bastin may have had a war to interrupt his career, and only the League and FA Cup to score in, but he did play in a far less defensive era.

Next up for Wright, on 23 August, are Southampton, the club he has scored more goals against than any other Premiership side. With Leicester to follow the Gooners' dream scenario, that Wright gets the record against Spurs on 30 August, seems unlikely.

Wright scored twice, taking his club tally to 177 goals in 260 matches, as Arsenal moved top of the nascent Premiership table. It is, obviously, early days but there was an impressive look about Arsenal as they brushed aside a poor Coventry side. On this showing Chelsea, beaten by Coventry on Saturday, have already let slip three of the points putative champions should expect to claim.

Arsenal, though missing four England international defenders including Tony Adams, never looked like being guilty of similar profligacy. With Dennis Bergkamp outstanding and Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit promising, they were in control long before Wright struck after 28 minutes. A second, after 47, merely confirmed victory.

They settled first, despite being more elaborately reconstructed this summer, and both Dutchmen had created and missed chances before Ray Parlour, a player recovering the confidence and adventure of his youth, won two corners. From the first Scott Marshall headed just over, from the second he headed against the post. Coventry, all aflutter, only cleared as far as Patrick Vieira who shot fiercely from the edge of the box. The shot was deflected and Ogrizovic, unsighted, did well to block. But he could do no more and leaving a loose ball in Ian Wright's penalty area was like leaving a cold drink lying around last night. It was snapped up immediately.

Arsenal continued to press. Bergkamp dipped a volley on to the top netting and Vieira almost touched in a Wright cross. As they struggled to contain them, Richard Shaw and Paul Williams were booked for fouls and Gary Breen attempted to discover how fast Overmars could run with a limp.

Even so, the second goal refused to come and, Arsenal fans, wary of Dion Dublin and Darren Huckerby, grew anxious. Within 90 seconds of the break they could relax as Richard Shaw presented Wright with his second. The Coventry defender was exposed by his one-footedness as he attempted to play a back-pass with his right instead of the more obvious left. He under-hit the ball and Wright joyfully stole in.

"He is a great goalscorer and a great player," said the Coventry manager, Gordon Strachan. "He came into the game late and he has the enthusiasm of a 28-year-old. He works hard all over the place and loves playing. That is what keeps people playing a long time, not money."

Strachan was relieved to escape with two goals against - as he perspired in the steaming press room he joked he was sweating at the thought of the match being reshown on Sky later in the evening.

It could have been a heavier defeat and, were it not for Ogrizovic's reactions, would have been with Bergkamp especially denied. His time will come, last night belonged, again, to Wright.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Garde, Grimandi, Marshall, Winterburn; Parlour, Vieira, Petit (Platt, 48), Overmars (Hughes, 75); Bergkamp, Wright. Substitutes not used: Anelka, Upson, Lukic (gk).

Coventry City (4-4-2): Ogrizovic; Breen, Williams, Shaw, Burrows; Telfer, McAllister, Soltvedt (Boland, 67), Salako; Dublin, Huckerby (Lightbourne, 62). Substitutes not used: Hedman (gk), Richardson, Hall.

Referee: K Burge (Tonypandy).

Forest's record haul, Results, page 25

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