Manager Mikel Arteta said he was “in pain” after Arsenal missed out on Champions League qualification despite a comfortable victory over Everton on the final day. Arteta’s side needed to beat Frank Lampard’s men and hope Tottenham lost at already relegated Norwich, but Spurs’ 5-0 win at Carrow Road meant the Gunners missed out on a top four-spot for a sixth successive season. The hosts took the lead midway through the first half as Gabriel Martinelli stroked home a penalty after his shot struck Alex Iwobi’s arm, with the spot-kick awarded after a video assistant referee check.
Eddie Nketiah nodded in following a corner to extend the hosts’ lead on 31 minutes, before substitute Donny van de Beek, in what is likely to be his last game for Everton, side-footed in. It proved to be a short reprieve as two second-half goals in three minutes ended the game as a contest. Both came from corners as Cedric Soares slotted home, then Gabriel poked in after Everton had initially cleared. Martin Odegaard added a late fifth as Arsenal finished in fifth place, two points behind Tottenham. Their fans were in good spirits as the players did a lap of the pitch to mark their return to the Europa League after missing out this season. But Arteta said he took no satisfaction from that achievement, with a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle on Monday having handed the crucial advantage.
For Everton, meanwhile, a record-equalling 13th away defeat meant they finished four points clear of the relegation zone. The Gunners did all they could to try to finish in the top four for the first time since 2016, but the damage had been done in their two previous games – defeats at north London rivals Spurs and resurgent Newcastle. Buoyed by the home crowd, who booed former Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli on his first Everton start, Odegaard was Arsenal’s key orchestrator and had two efforts blocked. Asmir Begovic, who replaced Jordan Pickford in goal, also denied Martinelli. Despite the disappointment of missing out on the top four, the season can still be seen as progress for Arteta’s young side. But the Arsenal boss will have to deal with the futures of Nketiah, midfielder Mohamed Elneny and striker Alexandre Lacazette, whose contracts all end this summer.