Result: Arsenal 5 – 1 Everton
Competition: Premier League
Date: 22 May 2022
Venue: The Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Cedric, Holding, Gabriel, Tavares, Xhaka, Elneny, Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli, Nketiah
Subs: Leno, White, Swanson, Oulad M’Hand, Lokonga, Patino, Pepe, Smith Rowe, Lacazette
Arsenal ended their season with a flourish by winning Everton 5-1. Martinelli opened the floodgates with a penalty followed by an Nketiah goal in the first half. A small lapse on concentration allowed Everton back into the game but the Gunners made sure of the win in the second half with goals from Cedric, Gabriel and Odegaard.
A fantastic result that saw us finish the league three places higher than last season, with a return to continental football in the form of the Europa League.
Arsenal went into their last game of the season with the strongest team they could field. A half-fit White could only make the bench and Holding returned in his place after serving his suspension. The rest of the defence picked itself with Ramsdale in goal, Cedric at right back, Gabriel in the middle and Tavares down the left.
Xhaka and Elneny anchored the midfield while the trio of Odegaard, Saka and Martinelli supported Nketiah up front.
With Arsenal still in with a chance to finish fourth, the home team gave everything they got by pushing high and playing with urgency. Everton could hardly get out of their half. Cross after cross, high and low, were whipped in to the box but Arsenal lacked the killer edge to get the goal.
After all that pressure, it was an ex-Arsenal man who provided that golden opportunity for the Gunners. Martinelli volleyed on goal and Iwobi looked to have blocked with the upper part of his arm. After a lengthy VAR review, the referee called to the spot and Martinelli didn’t miss as he tucked the ball into the bottom away from Begovic. 1-0 to the Arsenal
Arsenal didn’t have to wait long to double their lead, just 3 minutes, in fact. The Gunners went ahead via a corner that was well worked but also poorly defended by Everton. Saka’s cross was flicked on by a mobile Martinelli and Nketiah made an instinctive finish to make it 2-0 to Arsenal
Arsenal continued bossing the first half and could have even ended it with a third goal as Saka streaked towards the Everton goal during a counter attack, but he could only push the ball wide.
We were dominating with 17 attempts on goal to Everton’s 2 towards the end of the half but it wouldn’t be Arsenal if they didn’t make things a wee bit more uncomfortable for the fans.
A little complacency crept in and they allowed Everton back into the game. Calvert-Lewin held the ball up well and cut back the ball into the centre of our box. Our defenders were not quick to respond and allowed Van de Beek to tap in for make it 2-1.
A major shame to have let the opponents back in after displaying their dominance.
After what I can only assume was a bollocking from Arteta in the dressing room, Arsenal came out after the break looking to reassert their superiority and avoid a dramatic equalizer.
The Gunners regained their focus and had their foot behind the ball as they zipped it around, orchestrated by the maestro, Odegaard. For all the smooth interchanging play, it was set pieces that proved to be the difference. Set pieces got Arsenal their third and fourth goals with Cedric playing a part in both attempts.
With everyone expecting the ball to be whipped into the middle during a corner kick, Saka laid the ball off to Cedric who lurked just outside the box. The right back surprised everyone and curled the ball in to make it 3-1.
Just moments later, it was another corner whipped in and cleared. Cedric received the rebound outside the box, dribbled towards the left and slipped in Gabriel who slotted the ball in for 4-1.
The home side were so comfortable at this point that Arteta replaced Xhaka and Nketiah with Sambi and Lacazette, the game feeling like a friendly and an opportunity to say farewell to the forwards.
The subs may have been an eye on the outgoing but it was the future of the club that caught the eye. Odegaard was a metronome, he controlled the entire game and deserved to cap it off with a goal. The Norwegian dribbled through the Evertonian defence and curled a left footer towards the bottom corner, away from Begovic to rapturous applause. 5-1 Arsenal.
It was a bold win and Arsenal ended the season on a high. The result saw Arsenal return to European competition for the next season but just fell short of a Champions League place as Sp*rs also won at Norwich.
Still, a solid season overall which promises a lot more in the next campaign.