Arsenal finished the season with a 5-1 thrashing of Everton but had to settle for a fifth-placed finish as Tottenham beat Norwich at Carrow Road.
Arsenal needed the relegated Canaries to beat Spurs in order to have any chance of claiming the fourth Champions League spot but their emphatic defeat ensured it never looked likely on the final day.
Arsenal enjoyed themselves nonetheless, moving into a commanding lead at the Emirates Stadium when Gabriel Martinelli scored from the penalty spot (27) and Eddie Nketiah struck from close range (31).
Everton substitute Donny van de Beek pulled a goal back with a tap-in on the stroke of half-time but Arsenal made their dominance count in the second half with goals from Cedric Soares (56), Gabriel Magalhaes (59) and the excellent Martin Odegaard (82).
The four-goal margin of victory made it Arsenal’s biggest win of the Premier League season and took them to 69 points, two behind Tottenham, while Everton finished on 39 points in 16th having secured their Premier League survival with a game to spare.
Arsenal: Ramsdale (7), Soares (8), Holding (6), Gabriel (8), Tavares (6), Elneny (7), Xhaka (7), Saka (8), Odegaard (9), Martinelli (8), Nketiah (8).
Subs: Lacazette (6), Lokonga (6), Pepe (6).
Everton: Begovic (6), Kenny (6), Holgate (5), Keane (5), Branthwaite (5), Iwobi (5), Davies (5), Doucoure (5), Alli (5), Gray (5), Calvert-Lewin (7).
Subs: Van de Beek (7), Price (6), Gordon (6).
Man of the match: Martin Odegaard
How Arsenal blew Everton away
Arsenal never got any kind of grip on the game during Monday’s costly defeat to Newcastle but they dominated right from the start on their return to the Emirates, pinning Everton back and creating a series of early chances.
The first fell to Odegaard following a Nuno Tavares cut-back, but his low effort was repelled at close-range. Asmir Begovic, standing in for the absent Jordan Pickford in goal, then had to be alert again to save a similar effort from Martinelli.
Everton had a rare sight of goal when Demarai Gray’s powerful drive forced a slightly panicked save from an out-of-position Aaron Ramsdale, but Arsenal’s breakthrough arrived not long afterwards.
They had to wait for a VAR check after Martinelli’s initial shot had been blocked by former Arsenal man Alex Iwobi, but Andre Marriner pointed to the spot after consulting the pitchside monitor for handball and Martinelli made no mistake, sending Begovic the wrong way.
The second goal arrived from another set piece as Bukayo Saka’s corner was flicked on at the near post by Granit Xhaka and Nketiah, on what could prove his final Arsenal appearance, flicked the ball over the line from inside the six-yard box.
- Rob Holding returned from suspension for Arsenal as Ben White dropped to the bench, while Gabriel Martinelli and Cedric Soares also came into the side.
- Richarlison and Jordan Pickford were left out of the Everton squad while there was a first start for January signing Dele Alli as Frank Lampard changed things up.
Arsenal continued to pile forward, with Martinelli threatening a third following a goalmouth scramble and Saka firing narrowly wide after being put through on goal by Nketiah.
But Everton suddenly found a way back into the game when Arsenal’s defense switched off and Van de Beek, a substitute for the injured Abdoulaye Doucoure, tapped in from Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s low cross after ghosting into the box unmarked.
Everton briefly gained some momentum, making an improved start to the second half, but Arsenal soon reasserted their dominance, restoring their two-goal cushion through an unlikely scorer in Cedric as he slammed home from another Saka corner.
The full-back was involved in Arsenal’s fourth, too, as his attempted shot fell to Gabriel, who bundled the ball past Begovic, the goal surviving a VAR check for offside.
Arsenal – and the home supporters in the stands – were well aware the win would not be enough for fourth given events at Carrow Road, but they continued to get behind the team and Odegaard’s fifth was arguably the pick of the bunch.
Having collected a pass from substitute Nicolas Pepe on the edge of the box, he shimmied away from Everton youngster Isaac Price before rolling a sublime, side-footed finish into the bottom corner.
The five-goal performance was not enough to secure Champions League football, but it ensured a positive atmosphere and a happy send-off for the players as the club geared up for a big summer.
Arteta ‘in pain’ after missing out top four
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said: “We did what we had to do. We knew it was not in our hands. We needed a miracle and it did not occur. That’s it. The league table at the end of the season does not lie.
“It’s true that last year with 67 points, Chelsea got into the Champions League. We have 69 we are out of it. But that’s the level and the demands this league has now.
“We tried to give the fans everything they deserve, everything they have done for us and helped us to come much further as a club and as a team.
“I can not assess the season today, I’m sorry, I’m still in a lot of pain after what happened on Monday and I would like to have a fair assessment on what we’ve done.
“What I can guarantee you is that we have tried to squeeze the lemon as much as we possibly could, for every single drop, and we reached the point that we reached.
“You can see what we have on the pitch and what this club had on the pitch 10 or 20 years ago. We know where we have to go and we are not going to stop.
“We are disappointed today because we have generated expectations that we wanted for this football club and in the end we came short. That feeling of guilt, and not reaching that level is painful.”
Arteta: Nketiah, Lacazette, Elneny futures have been decided
Arteta: Decisions made on Nketiah, Lacazette and Elneny
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists decisions have already been made over the futures of Eddie Nketiah, Alexandre Lacazette spirit Mohamed Elneny and says he will speak to the out-of-contract trio in the next two days.
“I will speak to the three players now or tomorrow and after that we need to start to move on, but we have clear ideas of what we want to do,” he said after Arsenal beat Everton 5-1 but still fell short of Champions League qualification on the final day.
“It’s been decided, but it’s very difficult to communicate it while they deserve to have a little bit of what they had today.
“To do it earlier, one way or the other, with three situations like that is very awkward and could affect the team.
“As a club, we have to do the right thing in the right moment. Sometimes to combine those two is not easy at all but we will try to do the right thing.”
Lampard: Difficult day but we won our final
Everton boss Frank Lampard said: “We spent a lot of energy on Thursday. Richarlison, Allan and Andre Gomes were injured, while a few of the lads deserved a rest.
“Our big final was on Thursday and we won it. Today was just a step too far.
“It’s a difficult game for the players and Arsenal were playing for something. I thought Tom Davies played well and Dominic Calvert-Lewin really showed his power.
“My immediate feeling is absolute delight and relief that we kept the club in the Premier League.
“When I came in, confidence was low and we had to deal with a lot of injuries.
“The good thing about pre-season now is that we can work on things that we want to work on and improve the squad.”
Mixed emotions for Arsenal – Opta stats
- Arsenal have scored more goals against Everton (117) than any other side has scored against another in Premier League history, while the Gunners have won more games against the Toffees (35) than they have against any other opponent in the competition.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their final league game in each of the last 17 seasons (W15 D2), winning the last 11 in a row, while Everton have lost their final league game in five of the last six seasons, conceding at least three goals in each defeat.
- Only in 1993/94 (22) have Everton lost more games in a Premier League season than the 21 defeats they have suffered in the competition this term.
- Arsenal have conceded in each of their last 10 Premier League games, the longest current run without a clean sheet in the division.
- Arsenal became just the second side to score three goals from corner situations in a single Premier League game this season after Liverpool against Crystal Palace in September. The Gunners have scored 13 goals in total from corners in the Premier League this season – only Man City (15) and Liverpool (15) have scored more.