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Ratings and analysis as five-star Gunners go out on a high despite missing out on fourth


Arsenal 5-1 Everton (Martinelli (pen) 27′, Nketiah 31′, Cedric 56′, Gabriel 59′, Odegaard 82′ | Van de Beek 45+3′)

EMIRATES STADIUM — You couldn’t tell their team had just conceded a fifth goal of the afternoon. Nor that they had embarked on a 400-mile roundtrip for the occasion.

Everton’s supporters had just watched their team cap off a miserable season, in which they flirted with relegation, with a thrashing at the Emirates. Yet shortly after the fifth goal flew in, the blue strip of the stadium erupted into the loudest cheer of the game as word reached smartphones that Manchester City had come from two goals down against Aston Villa to take the lead.

And the celebrations were louder still after the final whistle, when they discovered bitter city rivals ­Liverpool had been pipped to the ­Premier League title, prevented from attaining a domestic treble and ending the possibility of an unprecedented quadruple with the Champions League final still to play this weekend.

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In truth, it was a match that was really all about what was happening elsewhere. Everton had already secured Premier League survival in their penultimate game, but their supporters were glued to results across the country that, until City’s dramatic late three goals, were pointing towards a Liverpool title.

Equally, it was a shame for Arsenal that, with the slimmest chance of leapfrogging rivals Tottenham into the fourth Champions League spot at kick-off, their season was pretty much over 16 minutes later thanks to a goal 100 miles away. Their slender hopes of a shock pair of results dissipating in the warm north London air as Spurs scored one then made sure by half-time they wouldn’t be beaten at Carrow Road by already relegated Norwich.

It was unlikely to happen, but so was the prospect of Liverpool overtaking City. And Everton nerves jangled while Arsenal did everything required of them at the Emirates, knowing only victory would be enough.

There was a touch of luck to the penalty, scored by Gabriel Martinelli, that referee Andre Marriner didn’t spot; but a closer inspection by VAR revealed Alex Iwobi had stuck his arm out to block a shot.

Mohamed Elneny and Gabriel Martinelli celebrate the latter’s opening goal (Photo: Reuters)

Nonetheless, the next three Arsenal goals came from awful Everton defending at corners. Martinelli was there first to flick on a corner that Eddie Nketiah diverted in with quick reactions. Another one was passed low to Cedric Soares who had nobody near him as he sent a shot past Asmir Begovic. Three minutes later a corner was cleared but Gabriel managed to stay onside – a defender beating your offside trap is never a good sign – before scoring.

An increasingly rare shot at the top four has been squandered, but there are fleeting signs of promise for Mikel Arteta, provided he can prevent his squad being dismantled.

The highlight is Bukayo Saka, who left the field to a standing ovation after becoming only the fifth Arsenal player to play every league game in a season before their 21st birthday – and the first since Cesc Fabregas.

Martin Odegaard scored a fine goal in the 82nd minute – a fitting conclusion to his season. Nketiah has been unhappy about lack of games, but now has five in seven. Martinelli looks exceptional.

It will, however, irritate Arteta that they conceded Donny van de Beek’s tap-in just before the break, even though it had little bearing on the final result.

Arsenal vs Everton player ratings

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale 6: Soares 8, Gabriel 8, Holding 6, Tavares 6; Elneny 6, Xhaka 8 (Sambi Lokonga 63′, 5); Saka 8 (Pepe 78′, 6), Odegaard 8, Martinelli 8; Nketiah 8 (Lacazette 67, 6). Subs: Leno, White, Smith Rowe, M’Hand, Swanson, Patino.

Everton (3-4-2-1): Begovic 4; Branthwaite 5, Keane 4, Holgate 4; Kenny 5, Doucoure 5 (Van De Beek 37′, 5), Davies 5 (Price 77′, 5), Iwobi 4; Alli 4 (Gordon 67′, 5), Gray 5; Calvert-Lewin 5. Subs: Lonergan, Mykolenko, Tosun, Coleman, Dobbin, Welch.

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