New Arsenal raise interest rate

Arsenal 2

Merson 47, Wright 78

Aston Villa 0

Attendance:38,271

WATCH out the Uniteds of Newcastle and Manchester. The Gunners' defensive heavy artillery is now supported by men who can hit the target with impressive precision. Though not all they did at Highbury yesterday reflected their new enterprise, their second-half display was all that is now beginning to be expected.

Recent performances have made going to see Arsenal less like a penance, but there persists a sense of driving through a series of green traffic lights. Surely, sooner or later, the reds were going to bring everything to a screamingly boring halt. But here they were attempting to extend a run of scoring 15 goals in five games, which was tantamount to proof that Bruce Rioch was lifting the club out of the occasionally successful, but largely turgid reign of his predecessor.

The 3-0 win over Leeds had been convincing evidence of a serious title challenge and at the same time offered hope that this was going to be a campaign un-Arsenal like in its attractiveness. Villa, much more purposeful and organised than last season, had the resources to provide another test of the new, interesting Arsenal, especially as Ian Wright and Dennis Bergkamp had to face a five-man defence.

Paul Merson and Ray Parlour were earnestly required to augment the Arsenal attack, but Bergkamp's ability to drop deep and within seconds overcome a couple of tackles and return to the head of the attack meant that Paul McGrath's experience was seriously tested, as he faced that threat as well as Wright's pace.

Andy Townsend's return to the Villa midfield after suspension significantly stiffened that area and his linking with the industrious and thoughtful Mark Draper was instrumental in allowing the whole team to settle after Arsenal's early pressure. Even so, having only Dwight Yorke as a permanent striker tended to leave Villa looking thin in Arsenal's half.

Arsenal ended the first half in the same positive mood as they had started and it was only a block on the line by Alan Wright from Martin Keown and the fine goalkeeping of Mark Bosnich that denied them. A near-post drive from Bergkamp saw him dive down to frustrate the shot and almost immediately he had to chip away a 25-yard drive from Parlour.

But whatever thanks Villa offered Bosnich at half-time were quickly withdrawn two minutes into the second period when a neatly worked move instigated by Bergkamp left Glenn Helder with time to centre low into the area. Bosnich seemed to have the cross covered but as he went down the ball slipped from his grip and Merson was there to accept a gifted goal.

Once the deadlock had been broken, Arsenal's new character began to emerge. Bergkamp's shrewd passing and Merson's forceful running at last began to outwit the sturdy Villa back line and suddenly Ian Wright was appearing behind them. Villa had no choice but to reinforce their attack, sending on Tommy Johnson and Savo Milosevic. Yet they remained in retreat against remorseless attacking.

Bosnich's guilt required him to save superbly from Wright's cracking cross-shot after a rangey Arsenal attack that was the prelude to their 78th-minute second goal, which had their fans singing an ironic version of "Boring, boring Arsenal". Bergkamp and Helder exchanged passes at speed before Bergkamp thrust the ball across goal and Wright expertly side-footed in.

A year ago a two-goal lead for Arsenal would have been reason to close up shop and hide the key. Here they kept pressing forgreater rewards. That is what the arrival of Bergkamp and Rioch has done for their outlook.

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'