Arsenal hammered Everton 5-1 on Sunday but it was not enough to snatch a Champions League place – and it was the visiting fans, still relieved after escaping relegation on Thursday, who were celebrating at the end after Liverpool missed out on the title.
Arsenal were on top from first to last and led 2-1 at the break through a Gabriel Martinelli strike and an Eddie Nketiah header. Second-half strikes for Cedric Soares, Gabriel Magalhaes and Martin Odegaard were a fair reflection of their dominance.
However, Tottenham Hotspur’s 5-0 thrashing of Norwich City ensured they remained fourth, leaving Arsenal in fifth.
The Londoners, who last played in the Champions League in 2016-17 after 19 straight years of qualifying under Arsene Wenger, will have to settle for a place in the Europa League, which itself is something of a success after they began the season with three straight defeats.
It was a somewhat subdued atmosphere in the sunshine at the Emirates. A week ago this fixture promised to be dripping with jeopardy, with Arsenal still strongly in the Champions League hunt and Everton fighting for survival, but Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United left them needing Spurs to slip up, while Everton’s win over Crystal Palace ensured their safety.
Relieved Everton coach Frank Lampard made six changes and it showed as his team were overrun for most of the game
Having made all the early running, Arsenal were awarded a penalty via VAR when a Martinelli shot struck Alex Iwobi’s arm, and the Brazilian dispatched the spot kick to make it 1-0 after 27 minutes.
It was 2-0 four minutes later when Nketiah nodded in a flicked-on corner, but Everton pulled one back in first-half stoppage time when Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s low cross found Van de Beek unmarked to tap in.
It was a similar story after the break as Arsenal struck with a quick-fire double with goals after 56 and 59 minutes. First they worked a corner nicely to the edge of the box where Cedric had all the time in the world to sweep the ball beyond Begovic, and then Gabriel banged in the fourth after Everton failed to clear.
Odegaard topped things off with an excellent goal, drifting past two defenders then slotting into the corner as the game drifted to a close.
At full time the home fans gave Arsenal a good send-off after a troubled season but it was the Everton supporters, still giddy from their great escape on Thursday, who were making all the noise as Manchester City completed an incredible comeback of their own to pip Liverpool to the Premier League title.
Both teams – the two longest-running members of the English top flight – will have work to do during the summer, though probably with very different aspirations.