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BBC Five Live's David Oates
With a round up of the action
 real 14k

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
"We played well and we won"
 real 14k

Coventry manager Gordon Strachan
"Next time we want no regrets"
 real 56k

Saturday, 16 September, 2000, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Arsenal hold on against Coventry
Ray Parlour and Youssef Chippo battle for the ball
Ray Parlour and Youssef Chippo battle for the ball
Arsenal 2-1 Coventry City

Sylvain Wiltord and Paolo Vernazza scored the first goals of their Arsenal careers to give the Gunners a 2-1 win over Coventry.

Arsene Wenger's side seemed to be cruising when 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go but a sweet free-kick from Mustapha Hadji gave them the jitters and the Sky Blues almost snatched a point when they hit the bar in injury time.

It was a slow start from Arsenal as they managed just three corners in the first 20 minutes but as the half approached the midway point they started to turn the screw.

First Robert Pires broke down the left flank and pulled the ball back for Gilles Grimandi to test his sights from 25 yards but his shot was straight at Magnus Hedman.


I've got to be positive and recall that we played well and made many chances
  Arsene Wenger
A minute later Dennis Bergkamp ghosted away from Coventry's two central defenders and dragged a left-foot shot just wide of the post from the edge of the box.

The threatened goal was not long coming. On 23 minutes Wiltord beat the offside trap and broke away wide on the right. He cut inside the challenge of Richard Shaw and hammered the ball inside Hedman's near post with his left foot.

Just a minute later Bergkamp should have made it 2-0 when Pires, who was a constant threat, again got free down the left and fed Bergkamp in the box just eight yards out, but the Dutchman shot tamely.

Arsenal continued to dominate the proceedings without threatening until close to half-time when they again turned up the tempo.

Twice Bergkamp had chances from left-wing crosses but his first effort was saved and the second, which looked goalbound, hit Paul Williams and went out for a corner.


We are going home on the team-bus with a few regrets - not so much about the near-miss at the end but the fact that we didn't perform
  Gordon Strachan
Then Pires latched on to a ball which dropped 30 yards out from the Coventry goal and volleyed straight at Hedman.

Coventry's one bright moment of the half came a minute later as Mustapha Hadji tried to trump Pires' effort and hit a dipping volley just over David Seaman's bar from distance.

There was still time for Wiltord and the cleanly shawn Freddie Ljungberg to cause havoc in the Coventry defence once more and Gordon Strachan must have been happy his side reached the break just a goal down.

Coventry began to get involved in the second half and troubled Seaman with a couple of crosses but again it was Arsenal who threatened to score when Pires fed Ljungberg with a neat through ball but the Swede's shot was saved well by his international team-mate in the Coventry goal.

Ljungberg again tested Hedman when put through by Wiltord and, although they were now battling hard, Coventry were unable to create a decent chance.

But Arsenal would not be safe until they got a second goal and that duly came on 74 minutes when Thierry Henry on for Wiltord broke onto a Silvinho pass and drove the ball across the Coventry penalty area.

Williams stuck a boot out but the ball dropped to Paolo Vernazza on as substitute and the youngster struck it past Hedman.

But Arsenal almost let it all slip in the last 10 minutes. Ysrael Zuniga won a free-kick right on the edge of the Arsenal area and Hadji clipped a shot over the wall and into the corner of Seaman's net.

Coventry piled forward in the closing minutes and put Arsenal under intense pressure.

In the end the Gunners were thankful that an injury-time volley from Marcus Hall came back off the bar.


Arsenal: Seaman, Silvinho, Adams, Keown, Luzhny, Ljungberg, Parlour, Grimandi, Pires, Bergkamp, Wiltord. Subs: Henry, Vivas, Lukic, Kanu, Vernazza.

Coventry: Hedman, Edworthy, Williams, Shaw, Hall, Chippo, Hadji, Telfer, Palmer, Bellamy, Roussel. Subs: Zuniga, Kirkland, Eustace, Breen, Normann.

Referee: M Dean (The Wirral)

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