Arsenal managed to beat Everton 3-1 but it was not enough to make up for their atrocious campaign as the Gunners failed to qualify for the Top 4
Arsenal showed impressive fight to register a victory over Everton on the final day of the English Premier League after going down to 10 men in the 13th minute, but it wasn’t enough for the Gunners to qualify for the top 4.
Liverpool and Manchester City were both able to win their respective fixtures giving the Gunners no chance of UEFA Champions League qualification but Arsene Wenger will be buoyed by the spirit his side showed during the match.
Laurent Koscielny was sent off for a reckless challenge in the opening stages of the match after Hector Bellerin had opened the scoring but Everton were unable to capitalise and Alexis Sanchez doubled the Gunners’ lead.
Romelu Lukaku pulled a goal back for the visitors, but Aaron Ramsey put the result beyond any doubt with a well taken goal in the closing stages of the match. The result was impressive but the Gunners’ poor form throughout the season meant that it was the first time Arsene Wenger had failed to guide his side to a Top 4 finish.
In what could be his final performance for the Gunners at the Emirates stadium, Alexis Sanchez once again played through injury and had an important hand in Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Everton just as he has had an important hand in most of their victories throughout the season.
Despite visibly struggling with his thigh injury, Sanchez scored the all-important second goal for Arsenal thanks to some smart off the ball movement and never once did it look like his effort had diminished as a result of his injury.
Sanchez put in 2 tackles, made 2 key passes, completed 1 dribble and scored a goal despite only being on the pitch for 68 minutes. The fight the Chilean shows has led to him being a firm fan favourite amongst the Gunners and his likely departure will be a big blow to this Arsenal side.
Alexis Sanchez for Arsenal in the Premier League 2016/17:
Most take-ons (109)
Most goals (24)
Most assists (10)
Most through balls (9)
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 22, 2017
Despite failing to get on the scoresheet, Danny Welbeck was arguably Arsenal’s man of the match against Everton and fully justified Arsene Wenger’s decision to drop Olivier Giroud to the bench for this match.
Welbeck was a constant thorn in Everton’s side, and constantly pressed the Blues from the front – a huge help to an Arsenal side that were playing with ten men from the 13th minute of the match. The Englishman was also very productive despite Arsenal’s disadvantage and registered 2 aerial duels won, 2 tackles, 2 key passes, 2 assists and a 96% pass success rate on Sunday night.
There was one blemish to his match though, as the Englishman inexplicably missed Mesut Ozil’s pin-point pass to inadvertently pick up an assist for the opener. Welbeck will chuckle at the assist but the forward needs to do better in front of goal if he is to prove he has what it takes to lead the line for the club.
WELBECK WITH THE ASSIST OF THE SEASON pic.twitter.com/ZAxNsZeGyK
— Captain Morocco🇲🇦 (@AtIasLion) May 21, 2017
Koscielny has definitely ironed out the mistakes in his game over the last few years but against Everton, the Frenchman looked back to his rash self and on another day his sending off could have spelt disaster for Arsenal.
Koscielny is not a malicious player in the slightest but he could have done real damage to Enner Valencia with an unnecessary and dangerous – albeit ill timed more than intentional – challenge that could end up costing his side dearly.
Arsenal did manage to win the game and in the end, it wouldn’t have mattered as Liverpool and Manchester City both won theirs but on another night, this could have been an unmitigated disaster for the Gunners.
The sending off also means that the Frenchman will now be unavailable for the FA Cup tie against a Chelsea side that are flying and while his presence at the back will be sorely missed, it is entirely of the Frenchman’s own doing.
Red card for Koscielny! Sent off for a very reckless tackle on Valencia. pic.twitter.com/bdif9rFzvv
— Goals (@PremHighlightz) May 21, 2017
Williams was a smart signing by Ronald Koeman this summer but things have not quite gone to plan for the 32-year old who has been shaky at times this season. Against Arsenal, Williams was utterly ineffective and completely failed to cope with their attacking play – despite the Gunners being hamstrung by the sending off of Laurent Koscielny.
Failing to pick up any of Arsenal’s players for the opening two goals was bad enough but Williams’ performance did not get any better as time wore on. The defender failed to make a single tackle or win a single aerial duel all match and it Ronald Koeman will definitely be on the lookout for an improvement on the Welshman this summer.
Big summer coming up for Koeman and Everton. If any team wants Ashley Williams, let me know…I will carry him there on my back…..
— Phil White (@saus1878) May 21, 2017
Analysis of impact
This was a costly game for Arsenal in more ways than one. The Gunners will head into the FA Cup final without both Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel – who picked up an injury after coming on to shore up Arsenal’s defence.
It also remains to be seen if Alexis Sanchez will be fit enough for the match after further worsening his injury but if the Chilean’s attitude and resilience are anything to go by, we will see him in the final.
It is a positive result for Arsenal going into the Chelsea game as they showed impressive resolve to win the game despite the early sending off but the fact that they have now finished outside of a Champions League position for the first time under Arsene Wenger could be a hammer blow to the confidence and drive of these players.
Arsene Wenger will need to inspire his team to victory against Chelsea despite the fact that it is an FA Cup final, as a failure to win the cup would mean this season has been a total and utter failure with no positives to take away whatsoever.