Arsenal's Greatest Transfers #2

Arsenal's Greatest Transfers #2

So I’m back with another edition of ‘Arsenal’s greatest transfers’ for this summer. This week I feel even better writing about this player, being from South East London just like him. This guy had a great partnership with last week’s player, Dennis Bergkamp in the 90’s at Arsenal, played 288 games over seven years (only 9 as a sub!), broke Cliff Bastin’s club goalscoring record with 185, picked up 22 assists in the league as well as winning 1 Premier League title, 2 F.A. Cups, 1 League Cup, 1 UEFA Cup Winners Cup, along with a bunch of individual accolades. It’s Ian Wright.
It’s Ian Wright.
It’d be crazy to think what Wrighty would cost nowadays seeing as we are apparently bidding over £100m for Kylian Mbappé of Monaco, but in the year of 1991, after scoring 117 goals for Crystal Palace in 6 years, having only turned professional in 1985, Ian’s beloved Arsenal paid a club record fee of £2.5m to bring him to North London. To most, it’d seem that his dream had been accomplished as he had moved to the club he loved in the then First Division where one of his childhood friends in David Rocastle also played, but in reality, his dream was just starting.
After that famous night at Rocky Rocastle’s house where the two stayed up talking about everything Arsenal, Ian took no time at all to make an impact on the pitch. On his debut in the League Cup against Leicester, he got off the mark with a well driven shot from just outside the box that was destined for the bottom corner before hitting a hat-trick in his league debut away at Southampton. His first season at the club saw Arsenal finish 4th but Wright had a better individual season finishing as the club’s top scorer that season, a feat he’d repeat for the next 5 seasons, he scored 26 goals that season for Arsenal, his last to complete another hat-trick against Southampton and win the golden boot.
Despite Rocastle leaving for Leeds the next summer, the 92/93 saw Wright go from strength to strength as he bagged 30 goals to help Arsenal win the F.A. Cup and League Cup. Over the course of the season, Wright scored various types of goals, with his left and right foot, as well as with his head. This was exemplified in the two legs of the F.A. Cup final which saw score him a header in the first leg as well as chipping Sheffield Wednesday’s Chris Woods’.
Leading the Arsenal attack Wright enjoyed another great individual season at Highbury, scoring 35 goals. This season was also witness to one of my favourite goals of his. Up against Everton, a long ball up the pitch finds Wright, he juggles the ball side to side without breaking stride before lobbing the keeper before celebrating his 2nd of the game with the fans. Despite being suspended for the final against Parma, Wright also helped us to the UEFA Cup Winners Cup with a goal in the semi-final vs Paris Saint-Germain.
The next couple of seasons would see a drop in form for both Arsenal and Ian as we finished 12th and 5th in a period which saw George Graham sacked and Bruce Rioch come in. Wright still managed to be top scorer in each season with 30 and 22 respectively, the goalscoring record still being very impressive. In the 94/95 season, Wright got his 100th Arsenal goal, latching onto a deep cross to head home against none other than Crystal Palace, just three years after switching clubs. This came in a spell which saw him score for 6 consecutive matches. That year also saw him lead us to yet another Cup Winners Cup final scoring in every round except the final.
The Rioch period was made a little better with the arrival of Bergkamp, who Wright has publicly shown his admiration for. The Dutchman set up Wright on 14 occasions while playing together to bring success back to Arsenal but before the league title of ’98. Now in his early 30’s Wright was nearing the end of his Arsenal career but there were still great memories to behold. Another 30 goal season in 96/97. Taking off his shirt revealing the ‘Just Did It’ vest a goal early and then properly breaking Cliff Bastin’s record by scoring his 179th goal in the same match against Bolton, as well as coming back from that long term injury to come on as a substitute against Everton in May ’98 to finally achieve that dream of lifting the Premier League trophy. His final Arsenal goal was also his 300th career goal, a well-taken effort from inside the West Ham box in a League Cup quarter-final.
After only featuring 28 times in Arsenal’s double-winning season, Wright went on to play for two more years away from Highbury. In those two years, he featured for West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Celtic, and Burnley, scoring 21 goals in that time.
As we know, since his playing days Wrighty has been doing TV work for the BBC as well as BT, which is nice to see especially as he continues to be as honest as ever. So here’s to another great Arsenal signing! Thank you for all the memories, Ian Wright! Wright! Wright!

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