Arsenal Vs Everton: Recap, highlights and analysis

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal celebrates scoring his sides second goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on May 21, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal celebrates scoring his sides second goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on May 21, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) /

Arsenal ended their Premier League campaign against Everton Sunday afternoon. Here is the full recap, all the highlights and analysis from the 3-1 win.

Meaningless. That is what Sunday’s win over Everton to close what has been a horribly turbulent campaign for the Gunners. Arsenal did play well for long periods in the tie, with a greater speed to their play, but come the second half, with Liverpool winning at home to Middlesbrough, there was very little to play for.

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The first half, though, was a different story.

The game started at a frantic pace, and rarely relented for much of the opening stanza. Arsenal looked viciously fluid in possession, finding space in between the lines and zipping passes to and fro with great pace and precision. The first goal came in a typically free-flowing manner just a matter of minutes in.

Mesut Ozil, who was at his facilitating best throughout, found space down the left channel after a couple of neat one-twos, he took his time to pick out Danny Welbeck, who in taking a swing at the ball with an open net before him, deflected the cross straight into the path of Hector Bellerin who fired home from close range with Joel Robles stranded. It was the perfect start to a crucial, must-win tie.

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And then, the dreamy beginning turned into a nightmare. With Arsenal in control, Enner Valencia broke forward down the left channel, drew the naive, aggressive challenge from Laurent Koscielny, who catapulted himself at the ball, off the floor with his studs showing, and raised his head to see Koscielny hang his under a rash of red.

With just ten men available, Wenger shifted his troops around, reverting to a back four with Alexis Sanchez as the lone striker and Danny Welbeck on the left wing. The Gunners, though, continued to be extremely dangerous in the final third, with Sanchez finding the vital second goal.

The Chilean picked up the ball in space in a central area, shot from distance, seeing it rebound off of the back of Danny Welbeck. Welbeck was first to the ball, with Joel Robles questionably hesitating as he came out to collect it, and then a moment of uncertainty, with Everton’s defenders imitating statues, Welbeck simply passed it square for Alexis Sanchez to roll home.

During the final 20 minutes of the half, however, it was Everton who dominated. Ross Barkley was introduced off of the bench and was instrumental in their attacking play, and Cech was forced into a number of top drawer saves. A palm away of an Idrissa Gueye strike; a parry from a close-range header; collecting a number of whipped crosses at the feet of opposing attackers.

However, events elsewhere dictated a subdued atmosphere in the second half. With Liverpool taking the lead just before half-time through Georginio Wijnaldum, there was little for Arsenal to play for. And it was clear that they knew it. All the momentum of the tie left when Gabriel Paulista went down with a worrying injury, being stretchered off and will likely now miss next weekend’s FA Cup final alongside the suspended Koscielny.

Everton did make the final half hour a tad nervy with Romelu Lukaku confidently planting the penalty into the right corner after Nacho Monreal clearly handled the ball as he initially tried to chest a cross, but misjudged the flight of the ball, dipped his chest and his shoulder towards the ball, ensuring that he controlled it with his upper arm.

With the top four out of reach in virtue of Liverpool’s three-goal superiority over Middlesbrough, fans attentions turned to the state of the ownership at the club amid a bid from shareholder Alisher Usmanov. Perhaps that is the most significant decision to be made regarding the club and its future. Stan Kroenke is an unpopular figure and him choosing to sell would, in many people’s view, benefit Arsenal.

There were openings for Alex Iwobi, who came on for Alexis Sanchez with the FA Cup final in mind, who spurned a number of opportunities, but there was an element of finality to the closing stages. Aaron Ramsey did add a third to secure the victory with a lovely curling effort past Joel Robles, but it meant very little.

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Arsenal will be playing in the Europa League for the first time since Wenger was hired and it will be interesting to see how Wenger is able to recruit and protect the quality in his squad without the glitz and the glamour of Europe’s elite competition.