Football: Wright to the rescue

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The Independent Online
Sheffield United. . .1

Arsenal . . . . . . .1

SHEFFIELD United have a growing reputation for humbling the elite of the Premier League at Bramall Lane, but their ambitions were thwarted yesterday by a late Ian Wright equaliser when it seemed that Arsenal were heading for their third defeat in a row.

In his programme notes, Dave Bassett, the United manager, described wins over big clubs as 'richly rewarding', and after Dane Whitehouse had scored in the 47th minute, the Blades looked likely to add to home victories this season over Liverpool and Manchester United.

But Wright, who had begun to show frustration at the lack of space afforded him by Brian Gayle, spoiled Bassett's day by stabbing in a Lee Dixon cross for his fifth goal of the season.

Arsenal's equaliser came after George Graham pushed more players forward when he replaced Anders Limpar and Paul Merson with Andy Linighan and Mark Flatts. 'It's a pity when you see the game going over the top of players like Limpar and Merson, but I'm a realist and I had tried the skilful angle,' Graham said. 'The change of formation helped - when we had three rather than four at the back we looked a lot better.'

The first half had been largely shapeless, with only United contributing occasional moments of attractive football.

Kevin Gage came close with a drive that was touched over, but it was the runs of Brian Deane and Adrian Littlejohn that encouraged hope of better things.

Littlejohn made the breakthrough in the 48th minute, beating Nigel Winterburn and sending in a low cross that was headed on to Whitehouse, who volleyed home.

Sheffield United: A Kelly; K Gage, T Cowan, J Gannon, B Gayle, P Beesley, C Bradshaw, P Rogers, A Littlejohn, B Deane, D Whitehouse. Subs not used: A Cork, G Hodges, P Kite (gk). Manager: D Bassett.

Arsenal: D Seaman; L Dixon, N Winterburn, R Parlour, S Bould, T Adams, J Jensen, I Wright, A Smith, P Merson (M Flatts, 71 min), A Limpar (A Linighan, 71 min). Sub not used: A Miller (gk). Manager: G Graham.

Referee: L Dilkes (Mossley).

Goals: Whitehouse (1-0, 48 min); Wright (1- 1/85 min).