That was good fun. Arsenal rinsed Everton 5-1 in front of the home support to end things on a high note. It could have been better, for sure, but it was a darn good season from a team that most people expected to be fighting for the second Europa League place (or maybe even a Conference League place). Instead, the Gunners finish 11 points clear of 6th place and have firmly re-established their credentials as a Top Four competitor.
Everton, perhaps understandably, weren’t up for it today. They did their hard work over the last few weeks and secured safety in dramatic, comeback fashion on Thursday. They mostly sleptwalked through the match, other than Dele Alli playing like a dangerous maniac. You can take the player out of Tottenham, but you can’t take the Tottenham out of the player. But who cares.
Today was about Arsenal. The youngest team in the Premier League put on a show for the Emirates faithful, with the kids having a hand in all the goals. Gabriel Martinelli scored a penalty, Bukayo Saka took the corner for Eddie Nketiah’s goal and Cedric Soares’, Gabriel Magalhaes scored (his 5th of the season, the most among CBs in the league), and Martin Ødegaard put the cherry on top. The future at Arsenal is bright.
Today was also possibly the final time we’ll see a number of players in an Arsenal shirt. Eddie Nketiah is probably not going to stay at the club but scored from just a few yards away on his send-off. Cedric marked what could be his last Arsenal match with a goal, a pretty good game, and some aimless crosses hit to nobody in particular. Mohamed Elneny had a solid, unspectacular performance. Nicolas Pépé gave us a flash of individual skill that led to nothing. And Alexandre Lacazette donned the armband for a final time and failed to score from open play. Everybody played the hits - I hope y’all realize everything here is tongue-in-cheek.
Might today also have been the last time we see Granit Xhaka at the Emirates? If it was, the Gooners gave him a well-deserved round of applause as he came off the pitch in the second half.
Regardless of who stays, who goes, and who is added, Arsenal will look quite different come August. They’ve got a fantastic young core of players to build around and have easily identifiable areas for improvement. And I think the decision-makers have a pretty good idea of which areas those are, too. It was a fun season, it’ll be an exciting summer, and I’m looking forward to next fall.
Arsenal are back in Europe and will be among the favorites to win the Europa League. They’ll probably be favorites to finish in the Top Four, too. It’s a great time to be a Gooner. Come on you Gunners!