Ten man Arsenal beat Everton – but Wenger’s men fail to qualify for Champions League
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Arsenal beat Everton 3-1 at the Emirates – but the result was rendered academic with top rivals Liverpool beating Middlesbrough at Anfield to secure the final Champions League spot.
Goals from Hector Bellerin, Alexis Sanchez and a late Aaron Ramsey curler saw Arsene Wenger’s men win 3-1 despite a second half Romelu Lukaku penalty.
The main talking point of the game was captain Laurent Koscielny’s 14th minute sending off with a straight red card awarded by referee Michael Oliver after a reckless late challenge on Enner Valencia.
Ten-man Arsenal held on to win but the joy was all Liverpool’s as Wenger failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 21 years.
Hector Bellerin put Arsenal ahead on eight minutes after Danny Welbeck fluffed a chance yards out after a probing Mesut Ozil low cross from the byline.
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Gabriel replaced Kieran Gibbs from the team that started against Sunderland in midweek as Danny Welbeck replaced Olivier Giroud as the home team started well.
Yet there was high drama six minutes later as captain Laurent Koscielny clattered into Enner Valencia along the right channel – leaving referee Michael Oliver no option but to send the Frenchman off.
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It was the right decision as Koscielny’s ill-disciplined challenge was high, late and reckless. Do managers still fine players two weeks wages? If they do then Wenger needs to do just that as the centre-half let his club down badly.
The fact his dismissal brought to five the number of times he’s been red-carded is indicative of a tendency for ill-discipline.
Wenger immediately switched to a back four - Bellerin, Gabriel, Hoiding and Monreal. In a further tactical move Everton boss Ronald Koeman then brought on Ross Barkley for Tom Davies in order to exploit the extra space afforded by the loss of Arsenal’s centre half.
In an increasingly fractious match Arsenal then scored a second 12 minutes later after Alexis Sanchez fired home from close range after being perfectly set up by Welbeck who had drawn Toffees keeper Joel Robles from his area.
Everton had their moments with Barkley and Valencia having shots blocked in a goalmouth scramble. Lukaku then had a header tipped over by Cech before dragging a low shot across Cech’s goal.
But as news filtered through of Liverpool’s late first half goal against Middlesbrough this match was suddenly rendered meaningless in terms of a top four finish for Arsenal – as Wenger’s men needed to better the result Jurgen Klopp’s team achieved at Anfield.
Robles then performed a double save from Welbeck and Ozil immediately after the break as the atmosphere and noise levels were far short of the first half – a reflection of the score 200 miles to the north west.
Lukaku then halved the deficit after Monreal handled in the area on 58 minutes – as the first chants of: ‘Stan Kroenke/Get Out Of Our Club’ were sung loudly by the frustrated Emirates crowd.
With 15 minutes Kevin Mirallas worked space on the edge of the area but his powerful shot flew over, and as the clock ticked down the home team probed for a third.
Ramsey duly obliged with a late curler – but with Liverpool and Manchester City winning the bitter truth was unless the Reds were to slip up against already-relegated Boro events here really didn’t matter in the scheme of things – a sad indictment on this season.
Cech, Gabriel (Mertescaker, 52), Koscielny (sent off 14), Sanchez (Iwobi, 67), Ramsey, Ozil, Holding, Monreal, Welbeck, Bellerin, Xhaka
Robles, Schneiderlin, Baines, Williams (booked 19), Jagielka (booked 39), Lukaku, Mirallas, Gueye, Valencia Kone, 83), Davies (Barkley, 26) Holgate
Referee: Michael Oliver
Tickets sold: 59,976.