LONDON (AP) — Arsenal finished the season with a 5-1 win over Everton on Sunday but it wasn’t enough to dislodge archrival Tottenham from fourth place in the Premier League.
Arsenal had to settle for fifth place — and Europa League football next season — after Tottenham grabbed the last Champions League spot with a 5-0 win at Norwich on the final day of the campaign.
It made for a bittersweet finale for the Gunners, who had a firm grip on fourth place just 10 days ago, before consecutive losses at Tottenham and Newcastle handed the advantage to Spurs.
Arsenal, which hasn’t qualified for the Champions League since 2016 after 19 straight seasons in Europe’s top competition under Arsene Wenger, finished two points behind Tottenham — having been four points ahead before a 3-0 defeat in the north London derby on May 12.
“We needed a miracle and it didn’t occur. The league table at the end of the season doesn’t lie,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said. “In the end we came short, and that feeling of guilt and not reaching that level is painful.”
Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah put Arsenal 2-0 up after 31 minutes at the Emirates Stadium before Donny van de Beek pulled a goal back for Everton just before halftime. Defenders Cedric Soares and Gabriel then netted within three minutes of each other to put the game out of reach before the hour mark. Martin Odegaard added the fifth in the 82nd.
Everton staved off relegation fears on Thursday after a 3-2 comeback victory over Crystal Palace and manager Frank Lampard acknowledged that his players’ performance was affected by the relief of having already secured safety. Everton finished 16th after a hugely disappointing season that saw manager Rafa Benitez fired in January. The away fans were still able to celebrate widely during the final minutes of the season as archrival Liverpool was denied the Premier League title when Manchester City came from two goals down to beat Aston Villa and clinch a second straight championship.
Arsenal missed out completely on European football last year and is expected to reinforce its attack in the offseason, with both Nketiah and fellow striker Alexandre Lacazette out of contract after this campaign.
Arteta said the future of both strikers has already been decided, but that those decisions will be communicated “at the right moment.”
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