****(My match reports from our Premiership days – 1999-2000)
– Match 04 – Premier League – August 25th 1999
– Arsenal 2 (Viera 8, Kanu 17 pen)
– Bradford City 0
If this is what being in the big time is all about, then Paul Jewell could be forgiven for thinking the Nationwide isn’t so bad after all as Arsenal gave Bradford City a painful footballing lesson at Highbury.
Jewell was probably relieved that the scoreline was kept to just two as the home side scored both goals inside the first 17 minutes. Arsene Wenger went for goals as he picked Thierry Henry to start alongside Kanu and Bergkamp and it was a decision that paid dividends straightaway.
The three front men linked well to free Ray Parlour down the right side and Gary Walsh impressively pushed the England midfielder’s shot around the post. The recalled Nelson Vivas swung in the corner and Patrick Vieira rose, unmarked, to head home. The Frenchman has been in the news for the wrong reasons since his spat with Roy Keane at the weekend – but he received the public backing of his manager and looked delighted as Arsenal streamed forward in attack after attack.
There was double delight minutes later when Wayne Jacobs tugged Parlour down in the box and Kanu dispatched the spot-kick inside Walsh’s left-hand post.
City had no answer as wave after of red shirts steamed goalwards, and only the form of City keeper Walsh and the profligacy of Kanu and Henry kept the score down. Five times the two strikers should have scored, and five times they were denied by the 31-year-old stopper: Henry from two, ten, and 20 yards out, Kanu from three and eight yards out. Ljungberg added his name to Walsh’s list of victims when he was denied, and Henry had a shot cleared off the line by Jacobs.
Paul Jewell brought on Stuart McCall for his first appearance of the season after half-time. Arsenal resumed normal service as Kanu had a 24-yard shot held by Walsh, by far the busiest player on the pitch. More chances came but were frantically beaten away as Bergkamp and the substitutes, Overmars and Suker, all should have added to the total.
It was the first time that City had conceded more than one goal this season – but they will be happy to concede just the two as Arsenal will be disappointed. Wenger will be hoping that the Premiership title does not come down to goal difference.
- Arsenal: Manninger, Vivas, Keown, Grimandi, Silvinho, Ljungberg, Vieira, Parlour, Henry, Bergkamp, Kanu
- Subs: Dixon, Suker, Overmars, Upson, Lukic
- Bradford City: Walsh, Halle, Wetherall, Dreyer, Jacobs, Lawrence, Whalley, O’Brien, Beagrie, Windass, Saunders
- Subs: Myers, McCall, Blake, Clarke, Moore
- Booked: Wetherall 68, Dreyer 82
- Attendance: 38,073
- Referee: A. Wiley (Burntwood)