Mikel Arteta proud of Arsenal despite final day disappointment in title race

Gunners edge past Everton with help of controversial winner but have to settle for second place

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Arsenal claimed a late 2-1 win over Everton on the final day of the Premier League season but suffered title heartbreak for a second campaign in a row.

Manchester City’s 3-1 victory at home to West Ham crowned them champions for a fourth year in a row and rendered the Gunners’ result against Everton meaningless.

The chances of any last-day drama seemed remote, but were reduced further when City went 2-0 up early on before Idrissa Gueye’s deflected free-kick put the visitors ahead at the Emirates.

Takehiro Tomiyasu levelled three minutes later, which was around the time West Ham reduced the deficit at the Etihad, but there would be no late twist.

A tap-in by Kai Havertz with 89 minutes on the clock did at least ensure the Gunners finished a brilliant season with a 28th league win to show further signs of progress under Mikel Arteta.

The goal left Everton stunned as Gabriel Jesus appeared to use his arm in the build-up. The VAR advised referee Michael Oliver to look at the pitch-side monitor but he still allowed the goal to stand in a controversial moment that baffled the visitors.

Arteta admitted his pride as he addressed the crowd at the end of the game, and vowed his side would keep pushing to end the club's now 20-year wait for a league title.

"All this is happening because you started believing," he told the crowd at the Emirates Stadium. "You started to be patient and started to understand what we tried to do. All the credit has to go to the players and the staff. Don't be sad. We want much more than that and we’re going to get it."

Arsenal skipper Martin Odegaard, who enjoyed another impressive individual season, said the players and fans had "changed the club" together.

"I think we’re all a little bit disappointed," he said. "We’ve been fighting so long for the big dream. We were so close. I’m so proud of the boys, so proud of the team the fans. I'm so proud of the progress we are making. We’ve changed the club and I think you all believe in us now."

Despite the absence of injured star Bukayo Saka, Arsenal should have been ahead in the opening moments when Tomiyasu nodded wide from close range.

However, the atmosphere went flat as news filtered through of Phil Foden's second minute opener for City. Foden's second goal in the 18th minute rendered the Arsenal faithful mute.

Everton took the lead in the 40th minute when Gueye's free-kick took a wicked deflection off Declan Rice's head.

To their credit, the Gunners equalised just three minutes later when Tomiyasu met Odegaard's pass with a fine finish.

Arsenal fans let out a defiant roar when they heard Mohammed Kudus had reduced the deficit for West Ham late in the first half.

But Rodri's 59th minute goal for City was met with silence, and when Havertz stabbed home in the closing stages, Arsenal had already accepted their fate.

Updated: May 19, 2024, 7:15 PM