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BBC Sport's John Murray
"It's Arsenal's first defeat since the opening day of the season."
 real 14k

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
"You have to choose, you can not play everything, and go for everything."
 real 14k

banner Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 22:30 GMT
Arsenal 1-2 Ipswich
Jamie Clapham
Ipswich goal hero Clapham struck in the second minute
Arsenal's team of youngsters wore black armbands to mourn the passing of George Armstrong and then provided a fitting tribute to his memory with a dazzling display, despite being handed a Worthington Cup exit by Ipswich.

Eight of the players in manager Arsene Wenger's unfamiliar line-up have studied their trade under reserve-team boss Armstrong who died at the tragically-young age of 56 yesterday.

A minute's silence was observed before the start and then Arsenal found themselves a goal down to full-strength Ipswich after just 100 seconds, as Jamie Clapham slotted in at the far post when Marcus Stewart flicked on Fabian Wilnus' cross

But Wenger had also sprinkled his side with a touches of stardust in 13million French striker Sylvain Wiltord and new 1million Latvian centre back Igors Stepanovs.

And after the all-action Wiltord had struck the junction of post and bar with a crashing 25-yard blast in the 18th minute, racing onto a Stepanovs pass, the big defender headed an equaliser a minute from halftime to finally answer bring the sides level.

George Burley's promoted Ipswich team have taken the Premiership by storm and went into this tie on the back of a six-match unbeaten run.

But they were always fully extended to cope with the sharpness and desire of the Arsenal youngsters who included five full debut-makers including first-goal hero Stepanovs.

Wiltord, a class act from France's Euro 2000 champions, fired at will and often threatened to run the Ipswich defence ragged with his electric pace and power.

Matthew Upson, the Suffolk boy making his comeback for Arsenal after a cruciate knee ligament in December, headed against a post from a corner by Nelson Vivas who had earlier supplied the flag kick from which Stepanovs glanced home the equalising header.

Rocket

And Richard Wright made the save of the night, launching himself to turn over Wiltord's 54th-minute rocket.

The striker also missed the far post by a fraction from a half-cleared corner and then landed a chip just over the bar after dribbling is way through.

But Ipswich also had their chances with Scowcroft, a half time replacement for Stewart, scooping over when a slip by Rhys Weston let him in.

Former England youth keeper Stuart Taylor also saved well from David Johnson before Ashley Cole cleared off the line from Herman Hreidarsson's brave header.

And Scowcroft finally saved Ipswich the trouble of extra time when he slid the ball in from six yards after Upson blocked a Clapham drive.

It took Ipswich's unbeaten run to seven matches and ended Arsenal's 15-match sequence without defeat.

But the Gunners' familiar early exit from a competition which boss Wenger clearly regards as the `Worthless Cup' was greeted by generous applause from a 26,000 crowd who had been given a 25% discount on their seat prices, some great entertainment and a glimpse into Arsenal's future.

What a contrast with Tottenham's heavily-jeered exit against Birmingham at White Hart Lane just 24 hours earlier.


Arsenal: Taylor, Stepanovs, Wiltord, Upson, Vivas, Barrett, Cole, Vernazza, Weston, Pennant, Volz. Subs: Wreh, Mendez, Kaffour, L. Canoville, Lukic.

Ipswich: R. Wright, Wilnis, Clapham, McGreal, Magilton, Holland, Johnson, Stewart, J. Wright, Bramble, Hreidarsson. Subs: Scowcroft, Salmon, Scales, Reuser, Karic.

Referee: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees)

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26 Sep 00 |  SOL
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