Everton are beginning to look ominous at the right time of the season: seven matches unbeaten now. "They are always an aggressive side, who pressure you in midfield," said Rioch. "They are not going to give you much room to play."
Arsenal's Premiership season, meanwhile, is in danger of falling away. Their directors - who have taken over the buying of players from the manager - will be urged by Rioch to renew their efforts in the transfer market this week with Arsenal's squad, thin at best, currently looking anorexic. Two midfielders are said to be on the shopping list, West Ham's John Moncur and Blackburn's Tim Sherwood. Last night, it was reported that Arsenal had made a bid for Milan's Gianluigi Lentini, at pounds 13m still the world's most expensive player. His salary, some pounds 40,000 a week, may be a stumbling block, though Lentini apparently says he is tempted.
An irony yesterday was that Kanchelskis was on Arsenal's pre-season wanted list. "He was fairly quiet today but he has match-winning qualities," said the Everton manager Joe Royle. Hence the pounds 6m price tag.
Arsenal were without the suspended Tony Adams and injured David Platt and Steve Bould and how they missed them. The young players given a chance in the reshuffle, Scott Marshall in defence and Adrian Clarke on the right, performed competently but this was a job for more experienced men.
Ian Wright did his best, leading enthusiastically from the front as captain for the first time and scoring a remarkable goal to give Arsenal the lead. There seemed little danger when John Jensen played a pass forward and Wright, back to goal 40 yards out, spun past Craig Short. He wrong-footed Dave Watson before drilling home a left-foot shot to Neville Southall's left.
After two early chances - Southall saving from Glenn Helder and Dennis Bergkamp - it was Arsenal's first in half an hour. During that period Everton should themselves have had the lead, Daniel Amokachi fluffing a volley and David Seaman saving another by Kanchelskis then turning aside Duncan Ferguson's header from a corner.
Their sense of injustice was apparent after the break. Amokachi, headed through by Ferguson - booked for dissent in the first half - allowed Seaman to push his shot on to the bar, but an equaliser was not long in coming. Seaman's clearance found only Dave Watson in the centre circle and Graham Stuart collected his header forward, rounded Seaman and rolled his shot into the net. Arsenal were left appealing - unjustly - for offside as Ferguson ran back.
The game looked there for Everton's taking but Arsenal responded gallantly and Southall had to save smartly from Paul Merson's volley and two shots from Bergkamp, as well as tipping over Clarke's drive. After all that, came Everton's winner.
Kanchelskis turned inside from Barry Horne's throw-in and drove a dipping low shot into the far corner. "If you are going to force him inside, the second supporting player has to be in close attendance, and he wasn't," lamented Rioch.
Still, he saw good things, he added. Not enough, however. Everton, after a poor early season, are now full strength in more ways than one, and could be passing them soon in the table.Reuse content