Arsenal 1 - 2 Manchester
Dixon, Winterburn, Vieira, Bould, Adams (Hughes
45), Wright, Merson, Bergkamp, Keown, Parlour.
Subs Not Used: Selley, Marshall, Harper, Shaw.
G. Neville, Irwin, Pallister, Cole, Beckham,
Giggs, Poborsky (Butt 71), Keane, Johnsen,
Solskjaer, Butt (McClair 86). Subs Not Used: P.
Neville, Cruyff, Van Der Gouw.
Bould, Wright, Bergkamp, Keane, Butt.
Schmeichel had thwarted Wright, spreading that huge frame
to disconcerting effect, United showed their cobra-like
qualities, hitting back in vintage style. From the
wreckage of a 19th-minute Arsenal attack, Gary Neville
clipped play down the right, the ball seemingly heading
towards a Highbury safe haven called Tony Adams.
Maybe it was the swirling wind, or simply bad judgment,
but Adams allowed the ball to carry on and Cole,
anticipating well, was off and running, racing towards
the North Bank, his legs pumping like pistons. John Lukic
sprinted out but was left clasping only the cold night
air as Cole's pace and balance took him. The goal
beckoned but the angle was tight. No matter. Cole,
suddenly reviving memories of his unerring Newcastle
days, swept the ball irresistibly home from right to
It was Cole's 28th goal in 76 United appearances. His
outpouring of emotion, and probably a touch of relief,
was echoed by another former Arsenal man, Brian Kidd,
whose little jig caught the visitors' mood.
Arsenal searched for parity but found Keane increasingly
formidable in midfield. Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn,
Arsne Wenger's wing-backs, were struggling to make
ground down the flanks. Bergkamp roamed around Wright
and, though he did beat Gary Pallister with one elegant
trick, otherwise found much of his space blocked by
Keane, in magnificent form.
Wright began showing signs of life, twice testing
Schmeichel with shots. Then Arsenal found some space on
the right and suddenly Ray Parlour was speeding through
before crossing. Wright, diving full length, narrowly
failed to make contact. Neville did, the ball flying
worryingly close to Schmeichel's goal.
Arsenal then revealed their darker side. So full of
creative life under Wenger, they have retained a
propensity for nasty lunges, such as the ones Adams, then
Steve Bould, aimed at Solskjaer.
In between these assaults, the Norwegian showed why he
was a targeted man. Another United counter-attack was
accelerated by Karel Poborsky, the ball soon threaded
through the centre to Cole. Revitalised, Cole simply
played the ball accurately out to the left, where
Solskjaer was arriving at speed. His finish was as
emphatic as Cole's, the ball flashing low past Lukic.
Arsenal's troubles continued. Adams' ankle problem
prevented him from re- appearing after the break, the
arm-band transferring to Bould. Young Stephen Hughes
arrived, with Arsenal changing to 4-4-2, but the best
chances were still falling to the champions. A wonderful
left-wing attack saw the ball passed from Keane to
Solskjaer to Poborsky, who directed his header straight
Suddenly Arsenal began to stir. Hughes hit the bar and,
though Wright turned in the rebound, his effort was ruled
out for offside. Arsenal, though, were getting closer,
their attacks showing more signs of precision and
purpose. On 68 minutes, as three sides of Highbury roared
their support, Arsenal scored a fine goal. Merson
transferred play down the right to Parlour, whose rising
centre to the near post was turned in powerfully by
Bergkamp. Then came Wright's awful assault on Schmeichel,
which triggered some nasty tit-for-tat challenges.
Bergkamp was cautioned for fouling Neville and then
Keane, otherwise faultless, for felling Parlour.
Schmeichel, still limping, at least won his next duel
with Wright, clawing over the Arsenal striker's header.
The bad feeling continued as the players filed from the
field. Schmeichel signalled his anger at Wright, who
reacted by going for United's goalkeeper until restrained
by Gary Lewin, Arsenal's physio, and a policeman.
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Updated: Friday March 07, 1997 08:07:28 -0500
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