Arsenal v Coventry 11/08/97 8.00 Arsenal (1) 2 Coventry (0) 0 FT Wright 29,47 Sacre bleu! Ian Wright has his place in Arsenal history within his grasp after turning Coventry into Les Miserables with a sensational display ofpredatory finishing. He struck twice to take his Arsenal tally to 177 in six amazing years, in 260 appearances - and move within one goal of equalling winger Cliff Bastin's 50 year old club record of 178 goals either side of the Second World War. It also takes Arsene Wenger's Gallic concoction to the top of the Premiership and no-one can doubt now that they are serious challengers for Manchester United's crown. This was supposed to be the night Highbury got its first glimpse of itsContinental future with the latest pair of Arsene Wenger's five Frenchmen making their debuts, alongside new Dutch winger Marc Overmars. But the accent remains firmly Cockney, the everlasting 33 year old simply refusing to concede his place at the heart of the north London club. His enduring enthusiasm is matched by pace that the years have yet to daunt, and a thirst for glory that he hopes, at this late stage, will help him lose the bad-boy tag. He has been adopted by the Football Association for a series of adverts publicising their work, but tonight he sent another sort of message to the Lancaster Gate address he knows so well. He has his sights firmly on the World Cup and Alan Shearer's vacant shirt against Moldova next month and has started the season in the sort of form Glenn Hoddle will find hard to ignore. He scored in the 1-1 draw at Leeds on Saturday and withstood a battering by the Coventry defence to set the goalden boot pace. When Overmars slipped a short corner to Remi Garde in the 30th minute, the Sky Blues were relieved when young defender Scott Marshall's header thumped against the inside of Ogrizovic's left hand post. But the ball flew out to Bergkamp who set up Vieira for a low screamer that Ogrizovic could not hold, and before he could recover, Wright's razor-sharp reflexes had cut the loose ball beyond him. That was just the hors d'oevre for a 46th minute goal with all the hallmarks of Wright's game. Former Crystal Palace team-mate Richard Shaw will long be haunted by hismiscue as he tried to steer Petit's long through ball back to Ogrizovic from 40 yards. Before he could recover Wright was past him like a greyhound, haring clear and then, as the goalkeeper narrowed the gap, showing an ice-cold killer touch to precisely steer the ball wide of his grasp and perfectly inside the far post. Coventry, buoyed by their opening day 3-2 win over those other London importers Chelsea, simply had no answer. Arsene Wenger, who unveiled Petit and Giles Grimandi alongside fellow Frenchmen Patrick Vieira and Garde against Coventry, extended the cross-Channel influence with Overmars alongside his Dutch compatriot Dennis Bergkamp. And Coventry reeled backwards against the attacking options Arsene gave Arsenal by his bold decision to go man for man on Saturday hat-trick hero Dion Dublin and partner Darren Huckerby. It put a lot on the shoulders of young Marshall and Grimandi but allowed Garde and Winterburn to operate as spare midfielders in a notional 4-4-2 formation, while his wingers really burnt up the flanks. Overmars had looked blunted by his long injury battle in the pre-season games. But he showed his old acceleration in the 17th minute to get round the back and plant a tempting cross onto the right boot of Bergkamp. Thevolley flew wide, a poor finish. Overmars was being given a rough ride by Gary Breen, who twice took himout off the ball. But with the long-haired Petit flowing elegantly through midfield where Vieira quickly stamped his authority, and Parlour matching both work-rate and skill factor on the right, there was only ever going to be one winner. After Wright's goal he was caught hard and late by Shaw, who was booked, and then lay in agony after landing heavily on his back in a collision with Paul Williams. But on both occasions he showed the new sporting image he is trying to cultivate, accepting his opponents' apologies and handshakes. From Bergkamp's free kick after the first incident, Marshall was again desperately close to scoring with a back post header. Wenger gave former England captain David Platt a sentimental run-out before tomorrow's planned signing for Middlesbrough, but his arrival moments after the second goals was greeted with widespread boos. Bergkamp should have put the seal on a fine win, but after Overmars weaved between Breen and Paul Telfer to cross low, his fellow countryman burst onto the ball but hooked it over from just four yards. He went much closer with a screaming free kick that Ogrizovic touched over, his save not recognised by referee Keith Burge who alos booked Williams, Telfer and Garde. Arsenal: Seaman, Winterburn, Vieira, Marshall, Wright, Bergkamp, Overmars (Hughes, 75), Parlour, Petit (Platt, 48), Grimandi, Garde. Subs not used: Anelka, Upson, Lukic. Booked: Garde. Coventry: Ogrizovic, Shaw, Burrows, Williams, Breen, Huckerby (Lightbourne, 62), Dublin, McAllister, Salako, Telfer, Soltvedt (Boland, 67). Subs not used: Hedman, Richardson, Hall. Booked: Shaw, Williams, Telfer. Attendance: 37,324. Referee: K W Burge (Tonypandy).