Football: Wright puts Arsenal back on track: Late winner seals North London derby as Gunners deservedly put their opening day disappointments behind them

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The Independent Online
Tottenham Hotspur. . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

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REDEMPTION came Arsenal's way last night on the ground where they love to win most of all when, with three minutes remaining, Ian Wright displayed a scoring knack that had been missing from all their earlier attempts to put themselves back in favour with their manager, George Graham.

Wright, the arch penalty box thief, diverted Andy Linighan's prodigious leap at a corner - reminiscent of his FA Cup winning effort last May - to puncture the euphoria that had followed Tottenham back from Newcastle and into Ossie Ardiles' homecoming.

In truth, Alan Sugar's favourite old boy would have been nursing a bigger hangover this morning if Arsenal had not almost succumbed again to the failure to take their chances which continually undermined their attempt last season to put together a decent run in the league.

However, first and foremost last night they had to show that what happened against Coventry on Saturday was only the kind of opening-day disaster that can befall prospective champions. This time the attitude and desire was entirely to Graham's liking, and after a thoroughly entertaining north London derby he was the manager with the smile.

'Tonight we have rolled up our sleeves and won our pride back,' he said. 'We out-passed a passing team and Arsenal are not meant to do that. The only thing lacking was a killer touch.' Graham carried out his threat to 'frighten' those culpable against Coventry, and left Paul Merson and Anders Limpar out of the side and with much thinking to do. In Ray Parlour and Eddie McGoldrick, making his full debut after a pounds 1m move from Crystal Palace, he had players more suited to the rigorous demands of this fixture. Parlour worked with hardly a pause for breath while McGoldrick sparkled throughout. It was his late corner from which Arsenal reaped their golden harvest.

With their midfield redesigned and reinforced, the Gunners immediately placed a rigid clamp on the area which would determine victory. Spurs stuck to their principles and tried to pass their way clear from the mass of bodies, but rarely was daylight to be had and from early on the game was going away from them.

The tide was firmly in Arsenal's favour, and television replays showed they should have had the lead in the 35th minute. Another McGoldrick corner was won by Tony Adams, Wright knocked the bouncing ball against a post where Adams appeared to steer the ball home. Not so, said referee David Elleray, even though Colin Calderwood looked to be well behind the line when he made his clearance.

Apart from Wright, Elleray also booked four: Parlour, Martin Keown, Gary Mabbutt and Vinny Samways, but it was never a malicious affair. Compelling, it certainly was.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Thorstvedt; Austin (Caskey, 70), Calderwood, Mabbutt, S Campbell; Samways, Howells, Dozzell, Sedgley; Durie, Sheringham. Substitutes not used: Walker (gk), Hendry.

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

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow).

(Photograph omitted)

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