Arsenal complete their side of the bargain with late victory over Everton

Kai Havertz’s late winner sees Mikel Arteta’s side finish on 89 points, second only to Arsène Wenger’s Invincibles

Premier League: Arsenal 2 Everton 1

For just a few seconds, the miracle that Mikel Arteta and all Arsenal fans so craved seemed as if it might actually happen. As Takehiro Tomiyasu was slamming home an emphatic equaliser against Everton, rumours that West Ham had scored a second goal to peg back Manchester City began to sweep through the Emirates Stadium.

Having surprisingly found themselves trailing to Idrissa Gueye’s free-kick that deflected off the head of the unfortunate Declan Rice, suddenly Arsenal had hope of ending their 20-year wait to become Premier League champions. But after a campaign in which they have almost matched Pep Guardiola’s side stride for stride, the brutal reality that City simply do not falter at the final hurdle was made clear when news of Rodri’s decisive third goal that sealed their unprecedented fourth straight title was confirmed just before the hour-mark.

All but a handful of Arsenal’s supporters remained until the final whistle as they poured forward in search of the winner that took Arteta’s side to 89 points, second only to Arsène Wenger’s Invincibles. It eventually came in the 89th minute courtesy of Kai Havertz’s 13th of the campaign after substitutes Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Jesus had almost snatched the victory at the death, although this nervy performance against Sean Dyche’s well-drilled Everton was potentially proof that they are still not quite the finished article.

There had been a mood of optimism around the Emirates ahead of kick-off, with the Arsenal supporters creating a party atmosphere outside the ground in the warm May sunshine. Co-chairman Josh Kroenke made it clear in his pre-match message that whatever the outcome, “no one at the club will stand still” after spending more than £200 million on new signings last summer, with plans already well advanced for how to improve Arteta’s squad.


An over-reliance on Bukayo Saka, deemed not fit enough to feature here because of a muscle problem he picked up in last week’s win over Manchester United, is one of the key areas they must address. But the return of defender Jurrien Timber as a second-half substitute after he missed most of the season with a knee injury was a reminder of the depth Arteta already has at his disposal.

Everton have no such luxury and started with Ashley Young and Séamus Coleman – with a combined age of 73 and both offered new contracts this week – as full backs and Dominic Calvert-Lewin tasked with leading the attack on his own. However, it was the visiting supporters, for once enjoying a stress-free final day, who made themselves heard as news that City had taken an early lead filtered through.

Arteta clapped his hands in frustration when Tomiyasu headed a cross from Rice wide of the goal and again when Rice could not take advantage after Jarrad Branthwaite gifted the ball to Havertz inside the area. Jordan Pickford came to Everton’s rescue twice in the space of five minutes when he pushed away a volley from Leandro Trossard before denying Gabriel Martinelli at full stretch. Gabriel needed treatment after taking a Calvert-Lewin free-kick flush in the face, just as news of City’s second goal emerged. “You nearly won the league,” taunted the Everton fans.

Not even 20 minutes had been played but perhaps many of the home fans who made an early dash for refreshments when the game was stopped for a water break had already accepted their fate. They would have missed Calvert-Lewin come within a whisker of putting Everton in front when his shot came back off the post and he could only put the rebound wide.

With Arsenal labouring in attack despite enjoying the bulk of possession, Thomas Partey was booked for bringing down Dwight McNeil in full flow. Gueye’s free-kick looked off target but Rice could not help divert the ball past the despairing David Raya with his head. It appeared all was lost.

Yet a flowing move that ended with Tomiyasu finishing Martin Ødegaard’s cutback meant Arsenal were level within a matter of seconds, just as news that West Ham had pulled one back began to spread. The fake rumour that David Moyes’s side had equalised did nothing to calm the heart rates of the Arsenal supporters.

Arteta sent his players out early for the second half in a clear sign of his intention to go on the attack. Gabriel had to be withdrawn clutching his shoulder after tussling with Abdoulaye Doucouré before Havertz struck the post with a header from Martinelli’s cross. Somehow Pickford scrambled away Ødegaard’s effort from close range before Branthwaite was on hand to block the follow up from Smith Rowe, who was unfortunate to see his volley bounce off the crossbar seven minutes from time.

But it was Havertz who struck the killer blow late on after Ødegaard’s shot was saved by Pickford to ensure that Arsenal at least kept up their end of the bargain, even if City were not so obliging. – Guardian