Bad day for Arsenal despite beating Everton
10-man Arsenal beat Everton 3-1 in their final Premier League match of the season at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon.
It wasn’t enough though for the Gunners to snatch a top four Premier League finish.
Victories for Liverpool at home to Middlesbrough (3-0) and for Manchester City away to Watford (0-5), means that Arsenal miss out on a place in the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.
So the Gunners finish in fifth place in the Premier League table, with 75 points.
That’s a whopping 18 points behind Premier League champions Chelsea, and 11 points behind runners-up Tottenham Hotspur.
Third place Manchester City finished three points, and fourth place Liverpool a point, ahead of the Gunners.
It will now be Europa League football next season for Arsenal.
It’s the first time Arsenal have finished the season outside of the top four for the first time since the 1995-96 campaign, when they finished fifth under Bruce Rioch.
Goals from Hector Bellerin (8th minute), Alexis Sanchez (27th minute) and Aaron Ramsey (91st minute) were enough to secure the three points for Arsenal in an incident packed match.
Romelu Lukaku scored for Everton from the penalty spot (58th minute).
Arsenal started brightly and took the lead through Bellerin’s far-post finish, after Danny Welbeck had mis-kicked in front of an empty net.
Laurent Koscielny was sent off in the 14th minute for a reckless challenge on Everton’s Enner Valencia. He will now be suspended for the FA Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday.
Koscielny has been sent off five times since his Premier League debut in August 2010 – no player has been red carded more in that time [Tom Huddlestone and Younes Kaboul also five].
Koscielny’s red card was the second time he’s been sent off in the opening 15 minutes of a Premier League game – the only player to have done so more than once [also sent off after nine minutes vs Manchester City in 2013].
Welbeck made amends for his earlier miss by setting up Sanchez for a simple side-foot finish, as the Gunners doubled their lead.
It was Sanchez’s 24th Premier League goal of the season.
Welbeck provided two assists in a single Premier League game for only the second time – the other was in April 2012 for Manchester United, also against Everton.
To add to Arsenal’s defensive woes Gabriel was taken off injured on a stretcher.
Everton pulled a goal back when Rob Holding handled the ball in the penalty area and Lukaku converted the spot kick.
The award of the spot-kick meant the Gunners conceded 10 penalty goals this season, one of just two sides in Premier League history to ship double figures of goals from the penalty spot [Hull, 11 also this season].
It was Lukaku’s 25th Premier League goal of the season – the most goals scored without winning the Golden Boot since Wayne Rooney’s 27 in 2011-12.
Everton’s goal also prompted loud and prolonged chants of “Stan Kroenke get out of our club”from home fans around the Emirates Stadium.
Sanchez limped off to a standing ovation in the 68th minute. Whether it was the last time we’ll see the Chilean in an Arsenal shirt at the Emirates Stadium only time will tell.
Aaron Ramsey right footed shot into to the top right corner.of the net in the first minute of injury time, from a Mesut Özil pass, sealed the win for Arsenal.
This is what Arsene Wenger had to say after the match.
“It is annoying but we had a spell during the season that was difficult and it was difficult for me in my personal situation. We were playing in a hostile environment. The players came back stronger in the past two months and I’m very proud of them for doing that.
“I was focused on my job. I am professional. I love this club enough to do my best every single day. One thing you cannot question is my love for this club. I’ve turned down every club in the world to stay here.”
So the Gunners go into FA Cup Final week with speculation over Arsene Wenger’s future still to be resolved.
Wenger’s future is to be discussed at a board meeting after the FA Cup Final.
With uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the club, after Alisher Usmanov’s reported £1billionn bid to buy-out majority shareholder Stan Kroenke.
And having to prepare for the match with Chelsea without the suspended Koscielny, and injury doubts over Gabriel, Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Arsenal: Cech 7, Bellerin 8, Koscielny 2, Gabriel 7 (Mertesacker), Holding 7, Monreal 7, Xhaka (Coquelin), Ramsey 7, Ozil 7, Sanchez 7 (Iwobi), Welbeck 7