Wright's nose for trouble

Arsenal 0 Coventry City 0 Attendance: 38,140
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The Independent Online
The moneyed aristocrats of north London duly delivered the leadership of the Premiership to their new coach Arsene Wenger to mark his first home match but with none of the panache that the street-fighting paupers from the south of the capital showed across town. Instead, there was more trouble for Ian Wright.

To Highbury's and Monsieur Wenger's chagrin, Arsenal squandered a series of chances, though Coventry held on comfortably enough for a valuable point - despite losing their inspirational goalkeeper Steve Ogrizovic late in the game with a broken nose and arm injury after a tangle with Wright.

They were sustained after he had appeared to hold back Wright, receiving in retaliation, in a flurry of feet and arms, a blow to the nose. The Arsenal striker, already booked - and already on an FA misconduct charge - looked fortunate to escape further punishment from the unsighted referee, Peter Jones. Neither did the two managers enlighten. "It was just a melee," the Coventry diplomat, Ron Atkinson, said. "Oggy's had a bit of cosmetic surgery which has improved his looks." Said M. Wenger: "Frankly, I didn't see what happened," proving that standard managerial skills transcend nationality.

It was left to an aggrieved Ogrizovic to elaborate. "He blatantly kneed me in the nose while I was on the ground," he said. "It is difficult for referees to see what happens in these situations, but I just hope somebody from the club takes him to task."

Arsenal lead the table - for the first time in four years - on goal difference. Wenger, the first overseas coach to oversee a table-topping team, will not be fooled by the lofty position.

"There were positive and negative things," he said. "We were strong defensively and always had the will to go forward. The negative things were the use of long balls and not taking our chances. Maybe we wanted too much to be top of the table."

Arsenal should have won comfortably, Wright worming his way into good positions but looking unusually impetuous in front of goal as he sought to add to the eight goals that make him the Premiership's top scorer. Early on he caught Ogrizovic more acceptably in the face with a shot from close-range after the goalkeeper had kept out John Hartson's header. Ogrizovic also distinguished himself by turning over Nigel Winterburn's drive and diverting Wright's low shot.

You thought that Coventry might crack when John Williams had to leave their three-man central defence with a leg injury and Dion Dublin moved back. Instead, they enjoyed their best spell with the substitute Peter Ndlovu offering more movement as an outlet up front. His finishing, however, was wasteful, screwing wide the only real chance after Gary McAllister had sent him clear.

Wenger threw on the rapier Dennis Bergkamp for his first match in six weeks , the bludgeon Hartson having been dealt with, and for a while again it seemed a winner might arrive. When Ogrizovic dropped the Dutchman's deep cross, the excellent Dublin cleared Paul Merson's stab off the line, and Eion Jess did the same from Steve Bould's header, you knew that goalless it would remain.