Platt the predator pays first dividend

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The Independent Online

Everton 0 Arsenal 2

Common aspirations turned in opposite directions at Goodison Park last night as Arsenal conjured the goals of quality which still seem beyond the capabilities of Everton. The dormant threat in David Platt's game was eventually awoken to put Arsenal on course to their first victory under Bruce Rioch. Ian Wright's characteristic solo effort, four minutes from the end, confirmed the gulf between these teams.

Everton paraded their recently-acquired silverware, Arsenal their new golden boys, yet for much of this match the two clubs' championship campaigns appeared impoverished.

Joe Royle's FA Cup winners remain at least a couple of class players short of a genuine Premiership force, even accounting for the scheduled arrival of Andrei Kanchelskis later this week. Arsenal assumed they had bridged that divide with the signings of Dennis Bergkamp and Platt, and gradually they glimpsed signs of dividends on their pounds 12.25m investment.

Bergkamp's exploitation of the spaces that began to appear in Everton's defence and Platt's instinctive runs into the area gave Arsenal an initiative they ultimately converted into a convincing win.

There are times - long spells in fact - when you wonder just what Platt contributes. But then he materialises on the end of a free-kick driven in by Paul Merson and smacks the crossbar with his header. At the final whistle, some were still wondering what Duncan Ferguson contributed. When Kanchelskis is installed, we are told, all will be revealed.

Tony Adams, marauding in hope and ultimately in expectation, found himself beyond the last defender only to discover, as generations of forwards have, that Neville Southall presents a formidable barrier.

Bergkamp picked out Platt's surge into the area, but the tracking Barry Horne scooped the ball away with his lunging tackle. Platt was also to have pleas for a penalty rejected as Arsenal manipulated their superiority. Bergkamp lifted a chance over the bar, Platt stumbled at his next opportunity yet in the 70th minute the England captain registered his first goal for Arsenal. He collected a pass from Merson, dragged it around Southall and calmly slid it in.

Wright, as ever, demanded the last word and slalomed through Everton's defence before dispatching his second goal in two games off the far post.

Everton (4-4-2): Southall; Barrett, Watson, Unsworth, Ablett; Limpar (Amokachi, 77), Parkinson, Horne, Hinchcliffe (Barlow, 57); Ferguson, Rideout. Substitute not used: Grant.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Dixon, Adams, Bould, Winterburn; Parlour, Keown (Jensen, 88), Platt, Merson; Wright, Bergkamp. Substitutes not used: Helder, Bartram (gk).

Referee: K Burge (Tonypandy, Mid-Glamorgan).