Redknapp faces a Dicks dilemma problem is Dicks

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The Independent Online
West Ham will have enough problems surviving in the Premiership with 11 men let alone 10, which makes the behaviour of Julian Dicks in the coming months a key area of concern for their manager, Harry Redknapp.

Dicks, he of the Russian revolutionary features and the anarchist outlook, was sent off in the 56th minute, just as West Ham showed signs of weathering the siege Arsenal had placed on their goal. As Redknapp observed, he was lucky to have stayed on so long.

Dicks was booked after 36 minutes for a foul on Glenn Helder, and could easily have been dismissed soon afterwards when his lunge on Ian Wright brought Arsenal their first penalty. Redknapp warned his reckless left- back to curb his more militant tendencies at half-time, but the words fell on deaf ears. Eleven minutes into the second half, beaten by Wright again, Dicks tripped his man and did not wait for the formality of a red card.

His dismissal came five days after Dicks's oft-replayed stamp on the head of Chelsea's John Spencer, a misdemeanour the referee missed, but which may bring further FA action today. Redknapp, for one, will have little sympathy with his player if it does, pointing out that if video evidence could reduce Vinnie Jones' red card to yellow there could be few complaints if it brought Dicks additional punishment. A second "sending- off" would be appropriate though Redknapp said he accepted Dicks's word that the stamping was not deliberate - "he swears on his child's life it was an accident".

Redknapp, who received no support from within the club when he re-signed Dicks from Liverpool, also pointed out that until this week his disciplinary record had been good. More worrying for Dicks was Redknapp's insistence that he would not tolerate dirty players. "It's not about kicking people," he said, "I'm not into all that. I want to see people play within the rules of the game. Play and pass, work hard and show your skills."

To an extent this is what the home side did, utterly dominating as they produced Bruce Rioch's first Highbury victory thanks to Wright's single score from two penalties. Arsenal's 23 goal attempts to West Ham's two gives a fairer reflection of play, and there were indications that Rioch is reforming the Arsenal way. A throw-out from the keeper here, a passing move there. Radical stuff like that.

Then again in many ways New Arsenal resembles Old Arsenal. Unbeaten, the defence strolled to its fourth clean sheet of the season. Which other club could creep into fifth place having scored only six goals in six games?

Goal: Wright (75, pen, 1-0).

Arsenal (4-4-2) Seaman; Dixon, Adams, Bould Winterburn; Merson, Parlour, Jensen, Helder; Bergkamp, Wright. Substitutes not used: Bartram (gk), Morrow, Hartson.

West Ham United (4-4-2) Mikloso; Breacker, Rieper, Potts, Dicks; Hutchison (Lazaridis, 74), Bishop, Slater, Moncur (Sealey, 83); Cottee (Martin, 74), Dowie.

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).