Football: Wright rewards Arsenal's enterprise: Anderton seizes the early initiative but Tottenham's creativity is checked

Click to follow
Arsenal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Tottenham Hotspur. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

A CRACKING derby, with honours rightfully shared, but what good it did Arsenal's Premiership aspirations is quite another matter. The draw, courtesy of a 66th-minute equaliser by Ian Wright, means the Gunners have now taken a paltry 15 points from their last 12 games.

In a championship turned from a marathon into a sprint by Manchester United's electrified pace-setting, that is nothing more than plodders' form. In the first half we had bemoaned Arsenal's chronic lack of ingenuity in midfield highlighted painfully by the opposition's wealth of invention and subtlety, most notably portrayed by Mickey Hazard. Eddie McGoldrick and Paul Davis were made the scapegoats of the latest setback at Coventry last Saturday and were replaced by Anders Limpar and John Jensen with no discernible improvement.

Arsenal were fortunate to find themselves trailing to only Darren Anderton's 25th-minute goal but after the break they were transformed, driving Spurs back relentlessly with a power game they play so well when the mood is upon them.

As if Spurs did not have enough problems trying to find able-bodied strikers, they lost the services of their last remaining one yesterday morning when Nick Barmby suffered a dead leg in training. It meant that Jason Dozzell, just back from injury and specifically a midfield player, had to be pressed into attack alongside Sol Campbell, a defender by trade. But how well they both responded to their new roles.

Translating such obvious superiority as they enjoyed in the opening half into goals has been Spurs' problem throughout the prolonged absence of Teddy Sheringham but fears of a repetition were confounded, it seemed, by Anderton. Collecting the ball just inside the Arsenal half from Dozzell's knock-down, Anderton's coltish legs took him galloping past Tony Adams before picking his spot wide of David Seaman with great panache.

Eager to support their makeshift strikeforce at every opportunity, Spurs poured forward from midfield to place the Arsenal defence under the sort of pressure they rarely experience at home. Spurs might have had a second five minutes after Anderton's goal but Darren Caskey, having just failed to make contact with a cross from Campbell, then sent a twisting header just wide of an upright as Anderton played the ball back into the middle.

Undeterred, Spurs were back minutes later looking for the goal which might have killed off the old enemy as Vinny Samways demanded a save of the highest order from the England goalkeeper after Dozzell had dispossessed Ian Selley dangerously close to his own goal.

For all Arsenal's pressure throughout the second half, clear-cut opportunities were at a premium. One chance presented itself to Wright in the 56th minute but the angle was too acute. Ten minutes later an upfield punt by Seaman was flicked on by Smith to Limpar, and as the Swede's lob cleared Colin Calderwood's head it dropped invitingly over the shoulder of Wright, who rifled the ball just inside the post. It was another milestone for this unique striker, his 75th goal in 106 games for the Gunners.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Dixon, Adams, Bould, Keown; Limpar, Jensen, Selley, Merson; White, Smith (K Campbell, 82). Substitutes not used: Morrow, Miller (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Thorstvedt; Kerslake, Calderwood, Sedgley, Edinburgh; Anderton, Samways (Austin, 88), Hazard, Caskey (Hendry, 67); Dozzell, S Campbell. Substitute not used: Walker (gk).

Referee: P Don (Hanworth Park).

(Photograph omitted)

Comments