The combative nature that is driving Ian Wright on to the distinction of becoming Arsenal's all-time record goalscorer also works against him

The look on Arsene Wenger's face told you more than he was prepared to say about Ian Wright's dismissal. It spoke clearly of exasperation.

Wenger claimed not to have seen an off-the-ball incident with Nikola Jerkan, but yes, he agreed, unnecessary involvement is foolish.

A problem for football coaches is knowing how far they can go safely when calling for commitment. In stoking up hotter and hotter fires in their players they run the risk of an explosion.

The principles Wenger is known to abide by, what we might regard as intellectual quality, makes him no less a pragmatist than any of his contemporaries. To succeed the team must play hard. Inevitably, this will lead to suspensions, but what Wenger does expect, and he spoke about it on Saturday, is a mature attitude. Unfortunately, in Wright's case it may be asking for the impossible.

The combative nature that is driving Wright on to the distinction of becoming Arsenal's all-time record goalscorer also works against him. "Ian is a terrific player and always seems psyched up in matches," Forest's assistant manager, Alan Hill, said. "But Jerkan said that Wright ran studs down his shin and if that's the case he deserved to be sent off."

What is Wenger going to do with Wright? What, in fact, is he going to do about the overall issue of discipline that is threatening to undermine Arsenal's challenge for the championship? Tony Adams and Steve Bould have been sent off this season, and both Adams and Patrick Vieira were suspended on Saturday.

Another question is when will Wright learn that there is no profit in feuding? Probably never. Sharp as a tack, he gave Arsenal the lead when Mark Crossley dropped a corner under pressure from Martin Keown, but then we saw the other side of him.

Body-checked for a second time by Jerkan, who was outstanding in Forest's defence, Wright went looking foolishly for retribution and was sent off. Jerkan may have made rather too much of the incident, but, with his reputation, what did Wright expect? "It was a hard enough game without having to play with 10 men,' Wenger said dolefully.

It was all the encouragement Forest needed. Level when Alf Inge Haland met a Dean Saunders cross in the 70th minute they went at Arsenal with enough spirit to suggest that Stuart Pearce has not taken on a lost cause. "We've only won a football match," Hill said (relieved to have been out on the field, away from the telephone, Pearce chose not to put in an appearance). "We need to win 11 more."

Apart from emphasising that there are no easy matches in the Premiership, what Forest's victory, only their second of the season, proved was how much a part luck plays in football.

More than anything else, I think, lack of it brought about Frank Clark's resignation. After leaving last week he telephoned all the players and sent a telegram. "We played this match for the gaffer," Pearce said.

Before the game, Pearce delivered a blunt message. "I know you all, know what you get up to," he said, "but as long as you perform it's all that matters. Don't mess me about."

Coming from a hard man, the captain turned caretaker manager, those words were not about to be taken lightly. If the difference is motivation then the appointment was perfect.

Pearce brought back Jerkan and Brian Roy, positioned himself as one of the three centre- backs and had Nigel Clough, on loan from Manchester City, among his substitutes. A different formation, too, with Dean Saunders employed as a wing-back.

Even when Wright put Arsenal ahead there was no sense of Forest's spirit flagging. More direct in the second half with Saunders using his pace to better advantage, they came right back at Wenger's team. Haland - "he has been our best player for weeks", Hill said - struck the winner late on and a new mood of optimism swept the City Ground.

Apart from anything else, Arsenal had missed an opportunity to go top of the League. "I have seen Forest a number of times recently," Wenger said, "and they missed a lot of chances. Today they had two and took them. Our problem was that we did not have a balance between defence and offence."

In the long run, it may be the balance between commitment and common sense that matters.

Goals: Wright (63) 0-1; Haland (67) 1-1; Haland (89) 2-1.

Nottingham Forest (3-5-2): Crossley; Jerkan (Lyttle, 85), Chettle, Pearce; Saunders, Haland, Cooper, Woan, Allen; Roy (Clough, 65), Campell. Substitutes not used: Gemmill, Phillips, Fettis (gk).

Arsenal (3-4-2-1): Lukic; Keown, Linighan, Bould; McGowan (Parlour, 69), Garde (Morrow, 78), Platt, Winterburn; Bergkamp (Hartson, 74), Merson; Wright. Substitutes not used: Marshall, Bartram (gk).

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley)

Bookings: Forest: Jerkan. Sent off: Arsenal: Wright.

Man of the match: Haland.

Attendance: 27,384.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor