Edu and Wiltord see off Grimsby

Arsenal 2 Grimsby Town 0
Click to follow
The Independent Online

The next team to visit Highbury in a cup competition are also famous for a black-and-white strip and it is safe to say Arsenal will be more than a little pleased if they can get the same result against Juventus in next week's Champions League tie as they did in finishing off Grimsby here last night in the Worthington Cup.

However, there will be more than a few changes to Arsenal's line-up next week against the Italians, compared to this half-strength side, but one who should figure on the basis of this performance is Dennis Bergkamp. The Dutchman was his team's conductor all night and it was his pass to Sylvain Wiltord which produced the game's second, decisive header 17 minutes from time.

Yet one player who will definitely miss that crucial European tie is David Seaman, Arsène Wenger admitting after the game that his No 1 goalkeeper will be absent until the New Year. "He had surgery last night on calcification of his shoulder," the Arsenal manager confirmed, "so that means two weeks' complete rest and then four weeks of training."

In this fourth-round tie Edu headed home his first goal for Arsenal, moving Wenger to comment: "This is the first time I can remember Arsenal winning with two headers." Despite fielding a severely weakened side ­ only Stuart Taylor from the line-up that beat Manchester United on Sunday started this game ­ they strolled to victory as Wenger continued to choose as many reserve team players as he dare.

That policy meant a full debut for the Japanese international Junichi Inamoto, whose appearance must have delighted not only him, but also the travelling press corps that has been following his every move this season.

Inamoto had at least made a substitute's appearance this season but completely off the radar until last night was Juan, a 19-year-old Brazilian full-back, brought in from Sao Paolo this summer, who had a lively debut.

The Grimsby manager, Lennie Lawrence, was not taking this competition lightly though, as witnessed by his side's 2-1 extra-time victory over the holders, Liverpool, in the previous round. And with limited numbers to choose from anyway, he picked eight players who had started the Mariners' last match ­ a 1-0 defeat at Burnley that condemned them to 22nd place in the First Division.

As that shows, Lawrence's men have fallen a long way since those lofty heights at Anfield last month and they came into this game on a run of just two wins in 15 matches. Their obvious lack of confidence showed as early as the third minute. Wiltord slipped a pass out to Jermaine Pennant on the right and the England under-21 midfielder's cross picked out Edu, whose header sneaked inside Danny Coyne's right-hand post.

However, Grimsby, inspired by their own fans outshouting Arsenal's, instantly went for the heart of the Gunners' defence and only a last-gasp Igors Stepanovs block prevented an equaliser. Michael Boulding later sent a low shot scudding past Taylor's post.

Grimsby then had an even better chance with the game still poised at 1-0, but Phil Jevons' volley from six yards went over Taylor's bar and their best chance had evaporated in the cold North London air.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Taylor; Juan, Stepanovs, Keown, Tavlaridis; Edu, Van Bronckhorst (Svard, 75), Inamoto (Halls, 85), Pennant (Aliadière, 82); Bergkamp, Wiltord. Substitutes not used: Stack (gk), Kanu.

Grimsby Town (4-4-2): Coyne; Chapman, Broomes, Groves, Neilson; Campbell, Willems, Burnett, Butterfield; Allen (Boulding, h-t), Jevons. Substitutes not used: Ermes (gk), Smith, Raven, Coldicott.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).

Comments