Football: Wright thrashing

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The Independent Online
Wimbledon 1

Jones 82

Arsenal 3

Wright 11, Smith 57, Campbell 65

Attendance: 10,842

THINGS are looking up for Arsenal. They won at a stroll, their defence was back to its hard- core best, and other players besides Ian Wright scored goals.

The changes made by George Graham after last week's humiliation by Crystal Palace did the business. Out went Andy Linighan, Paul Davis and Paul Merson, in came Steve Bould, Kevin Campbell and John Jensen, who in his usual unspectacular way had a marvellous game. No need to ask, though, who was man of the match - that was Wright, as ever.

Right from the opening exchanges, Wimbledon looked as though they were only there to make up the numbers. With eight minutes gone, Alan Kimble nearly executed one of the more classic own-goals, heading on David Seaman's long kick with Hans Segers well off his line. The Wimbledon goalkeeper, back-pedalling urgently, managed to fling himself over the ball before it crossed the line, but it seemed his team- mates were slow learners. Just three minutes later, another punt from Seaman sailed upfield. Wright darted around Scott Fitzgerald, outsprinted everyone else and buried the ball inside the left post to put Arsenal ahead.

After that, the away side never looked anything less than in control, though Peter Fear drove a clear chance wide. The rest of that half was largely an Arsenal procession; superb one-twos between Campbell and Wright, and, on the half- hour, a shot from Alan Smith that found the net but was given offside.

The second half brought a different referee, with Gerald Ashby grounded by a calf injury. There was no change in Arsenal's domination, though. First a Wright header that whistled just over the bar, then the real thing. Wright did not score Arsenal's second in the 57th minute, but he made it after Tony Adams's free-kick. His cross went left, hit the post and the keeper, then fell for Smith, who shifted the ball the remaining six inches over the line.

Eight minutes later, it was virtually all over when Smith, on the right, found Campbell in the goal area. The ball and Campbell's hand made contact, but the referee kept his whistle dry. Having got away with it, Campbell swivelled and drove a left-foot shot past Segers.

Inevitably, there was the consolation goal for Wimbledon. Vinnie Jones had never stopped slogging away, and he got his reward eight minutes from time, bundling the ball home at close range after Dean Holdsworth had played it back for him. If only Wimbledon had half a dozen more like him. Then again, perhaps not.

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