Football: Exquisite Limpar

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The Independent Online
Arsenal. . . .2

Everton. . . .0

ARSENAL cruised into fourth place with a fourth consecutive victory that could have been a rout of the kind they go in for when the mood takes them.

That a modest Everton restricted them to two goals was not entirely of their own doing. Alan Smith, who scored for the first time this season last weekend, sidefooted the easiest chance of the match over an open goal.

Ian Wright nodded in Paul Merson's cross in the third minute and was playing with the arrogant self-assurance that promised something like a repeat of his four goals in the corresponding fixture last season until hamstring injuries took him and Lee Dixon off before half-time.

Arsenal took time to recover their shape. Everton, meanwhile, never lost theirs and that was their problem. Their five-man defence was so rigidly unadventurous in the first half that Arsenal often had more space than they knew what to do with, and when the visitors did get the ball forward their strikers, conceding a good six inches each to Arsenal's two centre-halves, leapt in vain.

On came Paul Rideout after the interval to give his colleagues a totem to aim at, but Everton's best chances were not to come until Anders Limpar, once more making a mockery of his exclusion from the starting line-up, had doubled their lead with an exquisitely taken chance on the edge of the box and Nigel Winterburn had been carried off after a challenge from Rideout.

With a one-man advantage Everton did find paths into the box but Bould, Adams and Seaman had one of those indomitable afternoons on which championship challenges are founded, and nothing Peter Beardsley could dream up caused them the briefest discomfort. If they are as efficient at the other end, the only way is up.

Arsenal: D Seaman; L Dixon (C Pates, 29 min), N Winterburn, D Hillier, S Bould, T Adams, J Jensen, I Wright (A Limpar, 38 min), A Smith, P Merson, K Campbell. Sub not used: A Miller (gk). Manager: G Graham.

Everton: N Southall; I Snodin (A Harper, 69 min), A Hinchcliffe (P Rideout, h/t), M Keown, D Watson, G Ablett, R Warzycha, P Beardsley, T Cottee, B Horne, P Beagrie. Sub not used: J Kearton (gk). Manager: H Kendall.

Referee: K Hackett (Sheffield).

Goals: Wright (1-0, 4 min); Limpar (2-0, 59 min).