Arsenal smack five past Everton but fall short of the Champions League

Arteta feels 'guilt' and 'pain' as Gunners finish fifth

Monday, 23rd May — By Richard Osley at the Emirates Stadium

arsenal Image 2020-10-05 at 00.32.22

FA Premier League
ARSENAL 5 (Martinelli 27 pen, Nketiah 31, Cedric 56, Gabriel 59, Odegaard 82)
EVERTON 1 (van de Beek 45+3)

IT isn’t often that a manager watches his team win 5-1 but looks so dejected in the press conference afterwards.

Similarly, it’s a rare sight to see one look rather unbothered by seeing his team thrashed.

Both situations raise questions as to whether either can realise their ambitions at their respective clubs, however insistent they remained that better was to come.

Mikel Arteta had the Champions League qualification in his grasp for long periods and comments like ‘well, you would have taken this at the start of the season’ seemed unhelpful. He would not have taken ‘this’ before the shocking run of defeats against Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton which provided rivals Spurs with a route to fourth place.

The old enemy were smarter when it mattered, beating City twice rather than folding against the eventual champions like Arsenal did and acting sensibly in the transfer market. While Tottenham were recruiting from Juventus, the Gunners allowed their top striker to leave.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was scoring goals for Arsenal at the start of the season, but then hitting the net for Barcelona by the end of it. There is a nagging concern that a more experienced manager would have made sure he kept doing it for the former.

In the final weeks of the season, Arteta was left playing the same team nearly every match and again there are question marks as to why so many players are out on loan; some had fallen out with the manager of course but the Spaniard needs to handle the tantrums of big names in football if Arsenal are to field the players with the knowhow to push on.

Instead, there is a risk that this crop of players will always be for another day. The best ones will be cherry picked by the teams above Arsenal unless this young team ripen at the same time. Arsène Wenger had the same problem where his prospects would blossom at different times and then, without the full hamper, he would lose the brightest stars to other teams.

Nobody will want to copy Harry Kane’s career: a talent which whatever happens now will finish with no or not enough medals to match his contribution.

Against Everton here, Arsenal ran around at 150 miles per hour as if winning 10-0 would get extra points. It was easy to think that this verve should have been on display in the last two matches but Everton, drunk on survival and with Lampard offering little more than a sheepish grin, made it oh so easy.

The Gunners could have probably picked a number over how many they wanted to score. Alexandre Lacazette in this regard will have a pang of disappointment that he did not find a farewell goal after coming on a substitute.

Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah started the scoring, the former from the penalty spot after Alex Iwobi had handled in the area, the latter poaching a headed goal from a corner.

Everton pulled one back through Donny van de Beek with the last kick of the second half, after Rob Holding failed to clear.

In the second half, it was an end of season training game where Cedric, Gabriel and Martin Odegaard all took advantage of the visitors’ hangover from their midweek pitch invasion. When they suffered a fifth goal against, the Everton fans let off blue flares in delight… their phones were telling them that their own rivals Liverpool had fallen just short of winning the title.

It was an afternoon where the parties were all taking place elsewhere, and these two were left padding out a dead rubber. A disjointed lap of the pitch after the final whistle illustrated this further: they passed by the fans in dribs and drabs.

“We know where we have to go,” said Arteta afterwards. “I’m extremely disappointed today because we have expectations that I want for this football club – because it’s what it deserves and we came up short. The feeling of guilt and not reaching that level is painful.”

ARSENAL: Ramsdale, Cedric, Tavares, Holding, Gabriel, Xhaka (Lokonga 63), Elneny, Odegaard, Saka (Pepe 78), Martinelli, Nketiah (Lacazette 67)
SUBS NOT USED: Leno, M’Hand, Patino, Smith Rowe, Swanson, White

EVERTON: Begovic, Iwobi, Kenny, Holgate, Branthwaite, Keane, Doucoure (Van de Beek 37), Davies (Price 77), Alli (Gordon 67), Gray, Calvert-Lewin
SUBS NOT USED: Coleman, Dobbin, Lonergan, Mykolenko, Tosun, Welch

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