Arsenal 0 - 1 Wimbledon
Dixon, Winterburn, Vieira, Bould (Morrow 46),
Wright, Merson, Bergkamp, Parlour (Hughes 45),
Garde (Shaw 79), Marshall. Subs Not Used: Selley,
Cunningham, Kimble, Jones (McAllister 56),
Blackwell, Leonhardsen (Fear 13), Earle, Ekoku,
Gayle (Holdsworth 87), Perry, Ardley. Subs Not
Used: Heald, Goodma
no surprise result at Highbury yesterday as Wimbledon
extended their unbeaten record at Arsenal's home to eight
games over 10 years by playing the sort of thoughtful and
effective football that is becoming their trademark.
In a season when Chesterfield and Stockport could win the
major domestic cup competitions, it is unwise to make too
many predictions but Arsenal's chances of taking the
Premiership now seem more mathematical than realistic.
They are six points behind Manchester United, who have a
game in hand, and successive home defeats have dented
their championship hopes. Arsene Wenger's side did not
play well yesterday and many of their fans showed a
remarkable intolerance by booing and jeering at the end.
Arsenal are still fourth in the Premiership and will
probably qualify for the UEFA Cup. Surely they have done
enough to deserve more than brickbats even for the second
home defeat in a week? There have, after all, been more
good times than bad under Wenger, the disciplinary record
Wimbledon have eyes on the Treble, even the Quadruple if
you include the Fair Play League, in which they are
second to Sheffield Wednesday. They have had only two
Premiership bookings in five games during 1997, one
apiece for central defenders Chris Perry and Dean
Blackwell, an amazing record for players whose job it is
to win the ball.
Their winner, in the 23rd minute, was scored by Vinnie
Jones and even David Beckham would have been proud of the
Welsh international's clinical volley from Neil Ardley's
centre after Lee Dixon had only half-cleared Alan
The Highbury screen showed a close up of Joe Kinnear
smiling broadly. "I thought 'Oh, no - we'll never
hear the end of this' " said the Wimbledon manager.
"He does it day in, day out in training. Too often
his disciplinary record overshadows his ability."
Praising Jones does not come easily or naturally to most
football observers but credit where it is due: the
Wimbledon captain is having the best season of his career
(though many would no doubt say that should not be
difficult). He seems to have shed the unacceptable edge
to his tackles and is now winning the ball well and using
Wimbledon fully deserved their victory at Highbury, where
Arsenal's lack of strength in depth was underlined by the
fact they finished with a back-three of Paul Shaw, Steve
Morrow and Scott Marshall.
Ian Wright hit an upright in the 13th minute but was a
peripheral figure after that, perhaps affected by the
incident involving Peter Schmeichel last Wednesday.
Dennis Bergkamp showed some deft touches but generally
Arsenal were too predictable against a Wimbledon side who
registered their 14th clean sheet of the season.
Arsenal's best efforts during the second half were a
Bergkamp shot, which Neil Sullivan did well to palm for a
corner, and a shot by Patrick Vieira which the Wimbledon
goalkeeper parried for Neil Ardley to clear.
Ardley, Efan Ekoku and Marcus Gayle went close for
Wimbledon, who are likely to be without Jones and Oyvind
Leonhardsen (who both sustained calf injuries) against
Southampton in their Coca-Cola Cup tie on Wednesday.
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Updated: Friday March 07, 1997 08:07:29 -0500
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