Ian Wright's ten best goals for Arsenal

1. Leicester, League Cup, 25 September 1991

Ian Wright’s transfer to Arsenal was somewhat unexpected. Wright joined Arsenal at a time when they weren’t exactly struggling for goals. The Gunners had scored nine times in their last two league games - and had just thrashed Austria Vienna 6-1 on their return to European competition.

Just two days after signing, Wright was straight into the team and soon had his first Arsenal goal. Paul Davis intercepted a loose pass in midfield and fed the ball instantly to Wright, who, wide on the left, still had a bit to do. Wright slipped, but sprung up instantly, and hit an early shot with unerring accuracy inside the far post. Taking on a shot early, with an element of surprise, would become a Wright trademark. In his autobiography, Wright describes the endless hours of practice he put into his finishing, but there was so much about his game that was instinctive too.

Of his debut goal, George Graham said: “His goal came out of nothing. You can’t practice those.” Three days later, Wright helped himself to a wonderful hat-trick on his Arsenal league debut, against Southampton.

2. Southampton, First Division, 2 May 1992

Arsenal’s season as defending champions was disappointing, but there was plenty of entertainment for the fans - particularly at Highbury - and going into the final game of the season, there was at least an individual trophy up for grabs - the Golden Boot.

Gary Lineker led Wright into the final weekend, and scored in the first half of Spurs’ match at Old Trafford. So, Wright simply needed a second-half hat-trick to finish the season as top scorer. No problem! Wright’s first was a straight-forward penalty, but the second was breathtaking.

David Seaman’s throw found Wright deep in his own half and out on the left wing. Wright drove towards goal, held off a couple of weak Southampton challenges and smashed the ball into the net in front of a delirious North Bank, who were standing for the last time, with the famous stand about to be demolished and replaced with seats.

Wright sealed his hat-trick, and the Golden Boot, with a less impressive finish, but one celebrated with equal joy. As Wright himself said after the match: “That’s how much I feel I was destined to win it (the Golden Boot), it came off my shin and went in.”

3. Nottingham Forest, FA Cup, 13 February 1992

Arsenal finished tenth and scored just forty league goals in 1992/93, a remarkably poor return for a team who had been the division’s top scorers the previous season. The cups, however, were the Gunners’ salvation, and in the FA Cup, Wright managed ten goals in just seven games.

In the fifth round, Nottingham Forest visited Highbury, fresh from being eliminated there at the same stage of the League Cup just a month earlier. Two goals from Wright had done for Forest that day, and history was about to repeat itself. The build up to his first goal was nothing special - a booming header on the half-way line released Wright, and with the ball bouncing nicely, the striker took on another one of those early, unexpected shots and absolutely hammered the ball past Mark Crossley.

Wright put the game out of reach with another brilliant individual goal – and, such was his desire, injured himself late in the game chasing yet another hat-trick.

4. Sheffield Wednesday, FA Cup final replay, May 1993

As a Crystal Palace player, Wright had proved he was a man for the big occasion, with his two goals against Manchester United in the 1990 FA Cup final. Against Sheffield Wednesday in the 1993 final, Wright scored an excellent header, but the Owls fought back to force a replay.

In the replay, Wright again gave Arsenal the lead, with a beautifully created and finished goal. Alan Smith’s delicate and perfectly judged flick gave Wright a run on goal and he made no mistake, drawing Chris Woods out and chipping the ball over him for his fourth cup final goal. Andy Linighan’s last minute heroics clinched the trophy for Arsenal, but Wright, with his goals at every stage of the competition, had done more than anyone to make it possible.

5. Tottenham, Premier League, 16 August 1993

It’s hard to believe that Wright’s standing with Arsenal fans could get any higher, going into the 1993/94 season. However, how about throwing in a late winner at White Hart Lane for good measure?

Arsenal’s season had started badly with an awful 3-0 home defeat to Coventry, but they were at least given the chance to make amends just two days later against Spurs. In the same fixture the previous season, Wright had received a ban and a fine for slapping David Howells - this time his contribution was more productive. Eddie McGoldrick’s 86th minute corner was headed powerfully towards goal by that man Andy Linighan - and Wright, just a yard or so out, redirected the ball past Erik Thorstvedt.

Ok, so this wasn’t one of Wright’s greatest goals, but it was a very late winner, against Spurs, at White Hart Lane … so it makes the list.

6. Everton, Premier League, 28 August 1993

The second goal on the list to be assisted by David Seaman - and one of Wright’s most famous Premier League goals. Wright had already put Arsenal 1-0 up earlier in the second half, when Seaman’s long kick was missed by both Kevin Campbell and Gary Ablett.

So far, so ordinary. What came next was anything but. Wright’s first touch flicked the ball into the air with his left foot; with his second touch he did the same with his right foot - while simultaneously changing direction. Try doing that yourself - it’s impossible! His next touch was the most deft of lobs over Neville Southall, which the Welsh keeper just had to watch sail over his head.

The goal was the perfect demonstration of Wright’s incredible balance, imagination and cool-headed finishing ability.

7. Swindon, Premier League, 27 December 1993

Wright scored every kind of goal: tap-ins, brave headers, unerring one-on-one finishes. You name it, he scored it. Here, against Swindon, was a magnificent 30-yard lob. And it wasn’t a one off either - as other efforts against Huddersfield, Leeds and Yeovil showed.

Wright’s goal was the final flourish in a 4-0 thrashing, with Kevin Campbell scoring a hat-trick in a match which was one-sided enough for George Graham to say: “We should have doubled the score.” Wright had assisted two of Campbell’s three, but had the last word with what Graham called: “A moment of genius.”

8. Auxerre, Cup Winners Cup Quarter Final, 16 March 1995

George Graham had recently left Arsenal in the most controversial of circumstances and Arsenal should have been in turmoil. But they had a team of remarkably strong characters and a caretaker manager - Stewart Houston - who played to their strengths.

Wright’s penalty had helped Arsenal to a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Highbury, but with Auxerre’s away goal in the bag, Arsenal were second favourites to go through to the semi-final. Houston had dropped Wright a couple of matches previously, and the striker’s performance was brimming with determination and resolve.

Wright collected the ball on the right wing, after a defensive mix up, and arrowed a left-footed shot into the far corner from 25 yards. The Auxerre goalkeeper got his finger-tips to the ball but could not prevent a precious away goal - and gave Arsenal's outstanding defence something to protect. Wright’s goal, and a brilliant performance from David Seaman, saw Arsenal through to the semi-final.

9. Leeds, Premier League, 14 October 1995

Arsenal visited Elland Road on the back of their first Premier League defeat of the season, at Chelsea. Paul Merson opened the scoring for the Gunners after a poor clearance from ex-Arsenal man John Lukic, and Dennis Bergkamp scored from close-range - just his third goal for Arsenal.

With the game won, Wright added a final flourish with another beautiful chip to add to his collection. First, Wright improvised with some immediate chest control after Bergkamp’s powerful pass. Then, from the edge of the area, fashioned a lob that looked more like it had been hit with a sand-wedge than Wright’s right foot. Lukic could only watch forlornly as it sailed well over his head and into the back of the net.

Not Wright’s most important goal, but definitely one of his most beautiful.

10. Bolton, Premier League, 13 September 1997

Wright became Arsenal’s all-time record goalscorer with a finish easier than all 178 that came before it. Aesthetically, it was far from his best, but Wright - and no-one else inside Highbury that day - cared.
The record had hung over Wright a little. By his own admission, he’d been snatching at chances - but really this was just a reflection of Wright’s very high personal standards. A brilliant run from Dennis Bergkamp ended in a poked shot, which was saved by Keith Brannigan. The loose ball was seized on by Patrick Vieira, who nudged it towards an open net - and Wright couldn’t miss.

Either side of goal 179, were two more strikes that ensured Wright left Highbury that day with the match ball - as well as the remarkable record.