Arsenal: Cech, Holding, Koscielny, Gabriel, Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Monreal, Alexis, Ozil, Welbeck
Subs: Ospina, Mertesacker, Coquelin, Elneny, Iwobi, Walcott, Giroud
Arsenal will play Europa League football next season despite a 3-1 win over Everton, but that was the least of their worries after a losing Gabriel and Alexis Sanchez to injury, and Laurent Koscielny to a red card which rules him out of the FA Cup final.
Arsene Wenger recalled Koscielny to the starting XI, opted for Danny Welbeck up front in what was surely a cup final audition, while Gabriel came in for the illness stricken Mustafi.
There was an early sight of goal for Danny Welbeck who couldn’t convert a low Bellerin cross in the second minute, although the ball was slightly behind him.
The home side had started strongly, and were ahead in the 8th minute. Arsenal worked the ball down the left hand side, it broke for Ozil in the box, Welbeck had a tap-in from 3 yards but somehow he missed the ball. Bellerin was alert though, putting home the loose ball to make it 1-0.
The bright start was then rendered disastrous when Laurent Koscielny was sent off in the 14th minute. The Arsenal captain could have few complaints, he flew in on Valencia and got nowhere near the ball, and Michael Oliver issued a straight red which rules him ou tof next weekend’s FA Cup final against Chelsea.
Everton brought on Ross Barkley, and threatened from some dangerous areas, but before the half hour the Gunners had doubled the lead. We played the ball around the Everton area, Welbeck got the end of a deflected shot, the Everton players just stood around, Welbeck played it back to Alexis who tapped it in for 2-0.
The lead might have been extended further when a Sanchez free kick troubled Joel Robles at his near post, and he was thankful his desperate punch deflected out for a goal kick off Welbeck.
At the other end, there was a mad scramble in the Arsenal box, Everton had about five chances to score in 20 seconds, but each time made a mess as each time Arsenal made a mess of clearing it. Eventually the ball ended up with Cech, who was then forced into a good save from a Gueye shot as the visitors cranked up some pressure.
The Arsenal stopper was in good form again, and it was needed as he tipped a Lukaku header over the bar, before getting behind a Valencia effort well. Lukaku had an effort deflected wide when he should have done better, and as the half came to a close news filtered through from Anfield that Liverpool had taken the lead meaning they were in the driving seat for the final Champions League place.
Everton made a half-time change, bringing on Gareth Barry for Gana, and the substitute created a good chance for Lukaku, but the Belgian’s header was tame.
Strong work from Alexis helped open things up for Welbeck, but his shot was well saved by Robles, and the Everton keeper then saved the follow up from Mesut Ozil.
Defensive worries increased when Gabriel picked up an injury, twisting his knee making a challenge, and he had to be stretchered off, gutted at what he knew was probably a bad injury. He was replaced in the 53rd minute by Per Mertesacker, making his first appearance of the season.
The injury to Gabriel was compounded by Liverpool scoring a second goal and third goal against Boro, leaving the Champions League hopes dead in the water.
Michael Oliver then bottled a second yellow for Ashley Williams who had been booked in the first half. He tripped Welbeck but the referee didn’t deem it worthy of a second yellow.
That decision was then made more frustrating when a handball from Rob Holding saw Everton awarded a penalty which Lukaku converted to make it 2-1.
That led to chants of “Stan Kroenke, get out of our club” from the Arsenal fans, before Schneiderlin picked up a yellow for a foul on Xhaka.
"STAN KROENKE, GET OUT OF OUR CLUB" coming from the North Bank.
— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) May 21, 2017
The referee’s performance prompted Arsene Wenger into a change, taking the Swiss international off and replacing him with Francis Coquelin in the 61st minute.
Again Oliver bottled a second yellow, for Schneiderlin this time, keeping his red in his pocket when the Everton man should have gone. It was a day when not much was going right for Arsenal, and when Alexis went down injured, the final change of the game was made when Alex Iwobi replaced him in the 67th minute.
The worry was that the Chilean was clearly injured, holding his thigh, so this simply added to the worries ahead of next weekend.
Ozil was denied again by Robles after a great pass from Ramsey sent him through on goal, Mirallas shot over, Mertesacker blocked a Barkley effort, and Jagielka headed over from a corner as Everton sought the equaliser.
Lukaku made a bollix of another good chance, and a great Bellerin cross saw Iwobi take the ball down and have a shot blocked as the Gunners found some rare attacking jizz. And the Nigerian international was denied moments later by a good save from the keeper.
Bellerin DESTROYED Barkley with a nutmeg, and as the game entered five minutes of injury time, Aaron Ramsey made the game safe with a quite brilliant goal. He picked up a pass from Ozil on the edge of the box, the Welshman took a touch and curled an exquisite shot into the top corner. Postage stamp stuff. 3-1.
Barkley shot wide, and in the end Arsenal were deserved winners, but it was too little too late for this campaign as the club face a season out of the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.