Arsenal 3-1 Everton: Analysis as Gunners miss out on top four

Arsenal 3-1 Everton: Analysis as Gunners miss out on top four

A hard-earned win against Everton wasn't enough for Arsenal to secure a Champions League place.

TJ Wedderburn

For the first time under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal have missed out on Champions League football. 

The Gunners needed a favour from relegated Middlesbrough against Liverpool, but The Gunners' comprehensive victory meant Arsenal will play in the Europa League next season.

Eventful first half

Arsenal were fully aware of the task at hand, they knew they had to defeat Everton to have any chance of finishing in the top four. To their credit, they started the game with the required intensity and as a result took the lead in the eighth minute.

Mesut Ozil weaved his way into the Everton box and managed to pick out an unmarked Danny Welbeck, who remarkably failed to score from close range. Luckily, Spanish full back Hector Bellerin was on hand to tap home and give his side a fantastic start.

As this goal went in, Liverpool were being held by a resilient Middlesbrough, and a wave of optimism swept throughout the Emirates Stadium, with supporters starting to believe a top four finish was indeed possible.

However, that optimism quickly turned to concern, as captain Laurent Koscielny's reckless lunge on Enner Valencia six minutes later saw the Frenchman sent off. The 31-year-old will now subsequently miss Arsenal's FA Cup final showdown against Chelsea due to suspension.

Deflated but not defeated, ten-man Arsenal demonstrated great character by doubling their lead in the 27th minute through Alexis Sanchez.

Ozil, who had a growing influence on the game, found Sanchez in acres of space in the middle of the pitch. The Chilean then drove at the heart of the Everton defence, before unleashing an ambitious strike which deflected kindly in the path of Welbeck. The former Manchester United man laid the ball on a plate for Sanchez, who continued his run and made no mistake from inside the six yard box.

Despite being down to ten men Arsenal were in full control of the match. 

Too little, too late

News had filtered through the Emirates that Liverpool had taken the lead against 'Boro. So any win for Arsenal would prove to be in vain.

Nevertheless the north-Londoners still had a job to do, a job that became much more difficult after losing Gabriel to injury early in the second half. The Brazilian centre back was stretchered off with what appeared to be a serious looking knee problem, and is a doubt for the FA Cup final. 

Per Mertesacker was the man brought on to replace Gabriel, the former German international incidentally made his first appearance of the season, after struggling with injury problems of his own.

His defensive partner Rob Holding offered Everton a way back into the game after handling in the box, resulting in a 58th minute penalty kick for The Toffees. 

Romelu Lukaku stepped up and scored his 25th goal of the season from the spot, his effort beating Petr Cech who had guessed correctly but didn't account for the pace on the ball. 

Everton, despite their numerical advantage, didn't create nearly enough to take anything from the game. Lukaku had a chance in the 82nd minute to equalise, substitute Gareth Barry's cross from deep was met by the big Belgian, whose header sailed harmlessly wide.

It was the hosts who would add to the scoreline in stoppage time.

Ozil, once again at the fulcrum of Arsenal's attack, found Aaron Ramsey on the edge of the area. What came next was truly a moment of brilliance, Ramsey's inch-perfect touches allowed him to curl the ball beautifully into the top corner of Joel Robles' goal. Surprisingly it was Ramsey's first league goal of the season, but he undoubtedly signed off the season in style. 

Victory for Arsenal made it five wins from five league games. But their late flurry wasn't quite enough to secure Champions League football for next season. After a disappointing end to a forgettable league campaign, all eyes now turn to Saturday's FA Cup final, a chance for The Gunners to end the season on a high.