GGM 22: Wright breaks Bastin's goals record

From the moment he arrived at Highbury in 1991, Ian Wright banged in the goals for Arsenal.

A hat-trick here, a vital winner there, 'Wrighty' was Mr Reliable in front of goal and surely the most natural finisher in the Club's history.

Cliff Bastin's club record of 178 goals looked secure when Wright made his debut in a League Cup tie at Leicester in September 1991. By the final whistle he was off the mark and by the end of his league debut Wright was already netting at an average of two goals per game. Maybe Bastin had a pretender to his throne after all.

Sure enough, when the 1997/98 season kicked off Wright was sitting pretty on 174 goals. Three goals in the opening two games of the season - against Leeds and Coventry - moved him to within a goal of Bastin's mark. The football world waited for the inevitable.

And still they waited. Suddenly, Wright's torrent of goals dried up. He went three games without finding the net - rare for a man with Wright's scoring rate - and an international break extended his drought to over a month. When Bolton visited north London on September 13, 1997, Wright just wanted it done and dusted.

Bolton took a shock lead at Highbury but, 20 minutes in, Wright latched onto a pass and drove firmly past Keith Branagan into the bottom corner. No doubt relieved to end his barren run, Wright ripped off his shirt to reveal the message: '179 - Just Done It'. In fact, it was No 178.

The T-shirt would get a more timely airing just five minutes later. Dennis Bergkamp made inroads into the Bolton defence, Patrick Vieira challenged for a loose ball and, with the keeper stranded, Wright had a tap-in from no more than five yards. Of all his 179 goals for Arsenal, it was probably the simplest.

Cue pandemonium at Highbury. The whole Arsenal side rushed to congratulate the Club's new record goalscorer and the home fans, willing Wright to eclipse Bastin since the start of the campaign, gave the striker an ovation which lasted long after Bolton were ready to restart the game.

Typically, Wright went on to claim a hat-trick as Arsène Wenger's side ran out 4-1 winners. It was the perfect day for a man who deserves his place in history as an Arsenal great.

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