|[26 DEC 99] COVENTRY CITY FC MATCH REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Coventry City (2) 3
Arsenal (0) 2
BY ADAM DENT
Gordon Strachan heralded his players as the Sky
Blues ended the century with uplifting performance and an excellent result at Highfield
Strachan was full of praise for his side as they carved out a lead, repelled a dogged
Arsenal reply and managed to survive a late scare.
"That is the way I want my side to play. When we have played good teams here I
have often been able to say that we were lucky but today I thought we were the better
"Their goalkeeper and back four are one of the finest in the game and I had all of
them in my team of the 90s so to create as many chances as we did proves we must have been
doing things right.
"Arsenals second goal did make it hard but I coach my team to be positive so
it is very hard to then tell them to put the breaks on and with five minutes to go, Steve
Froggatt was still going on overlaps from left back. But even at 2-1 and 3-1 we produced
Strachan sprung a slight surprise by preferring Cedric Roussel to Noel Whelan but his
selection was again spot on as the young Belgian produced an outstanding aerial
performance to cause endless problems to England duo Martin Keown and Tony Adams.
He was not alone. Gary McAllister and Carlton Palmer dominated midfield while Magnus
Hedman again produced several saves of importance.
Coventry did make the perfect start but it was not a goal down to planning
McAllisters ninth minute shot struck Keown on its way past David Seaman and into the
Not that it wasnt deserved. Coventry regularly managed to set players through and
their finishing was more accurate than their opponents. Arsenal, with Kanu and Thierry
Henry impressive on the ball, created openings but failed to round them off.
Not that Moustapha Hadji had that problem. The Moroccan, who again gave the ball away
far too often for comfort, was given just a yard of space five minutes from the interval,
but it was enough for him to curl a shot round a defender and into the corner of
Seamans net. No deflection was needed.
If Coventry expected an Arsenal bombardment they will not have been disappointed. Still
Coventry probed and pushed looking to exploit every opening and when Arsene Wenger brought
on Davor Suker for midfielder Gilles Grimandi, it was a sign of their desperation.
They pulled a goal back in the 67th minutes when Fredrik Ljungberg showed
admirable persistence to score in a crowded area. That should have rocked Coventry back,
but the reverse was true and four minutes later Robbie Keane produced a delicate finish to
poke home a flick on from Roussel.
To Arsenals credit, they showed great fight and ensured a frantic last few
moments when Davor Suker, looking suspiciously offside, managed to evade four tackles to
score at the far post.
Still Coventry attacked and were threatening when referee Rob Harris sounded the
The perfect start to a testing programme the perfect way to end the century.
Hedman; Telfer, Breen, Williams, Froggatt; Hadji, McAllister, Palmer, Chippo (Gustafsson,
90 minutes); Roussel, Keane (Whelan, 81 mins)
Subs: Ogrizovic, Normann, Eustace
Seaman; Dixon, Keown, Adam, Winterburn; Lungberg, Grimandi (Suker, 60 mins), Petit,
Overmars; Henry, Kanu
Subs: Manninger, Luzhny, Silvinho, Barrett
Coventry City - McAllister (9 mins), Hadji (40 mins), Keane (71mins)
Arsenal - Ljungberg (67 mins), Suker (86 mins)
REFEREE: Rob Harris (Oxford)
Arsenal Grimandi (foul, 54 mins), Henry (dissent, 75 mins)
COVENTRY MAN OF THE MATCH: Gary McAllister