Berliner Tageblatt - Arsenal's title dreams dashed despite last-day win over Everton

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Arsenal's title dreams dashed despite last-day win over Everton
Arsenal's title dreams dashed despite last-day win over Everton / Photo: © AFP

Arsenal's title dreams dashed despite last-day win over Everton

Arsenal's dreams of a first Premier League crown in 20 years were dashed as their 2-1 win against Everton was rendered irrelevant by Manchester City's title-clinching victory over West Ham.

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Mikel Arteta's side had gone into the last day of the season needing to beat Everton at the Emirates Stadium and hope City drew or lost in Manchester if they were to steal the title in miraculous fashion.

But the Gunners were forced to settle for second place after relentless champions City beat West Ham 3-1.

Idrissa Gueye put Everton in front late in the first half before Takehiro Tomiyasu quickly equalised.

By the time Kai Havertz scored Arsenal's winner in the 89th minute, City were already well on course to retain the title.

Arsenal had been almost flawless in 2024, with 16 wins and one draw, away to City, in their 18 league matches.

However, one costly slip-up in a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa last month proved decisive in denying them a first title since Arsene Wenger's 'Invincibles' in 2004.

They finished two points behind City, who have won an unprecedented four successive titles and six in the last seven years.

Arsenal staff were seen rehearsing a mock title presentation at the Emirates on Saturday, complete with replicas of the trophy and medals, as well as signs emblazoned with the slogan 'Premier League champions'.

But there would be no genuine title party in north London as Arteta's heart-broken players were forced to accept their fate.

Arsenal fans had strolled down the sun-baked Holloway Road towards the Emirates more in hope than expectation of seeing a title-winning team.

Some even wore West Ham shirts rather their own club's in a nod to the favour required from their London rivals 200 miles to the north.

A raucous rendition of the club's 'North London forever' anthem before kick-off took the atmosphere to fever pitch.

- Silence in the stands -

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 at that exact second, the atmosphere went completely flat as news filtered through of Phil Foden's second minute opener for City.

A resigned hush settled over the sell-out 60,000 crowd, but Arsenal did their best to refocus.

Foden's second goal in the 18th minute rendered the Arsenal faithful mute as Everton fans taunted them with chants of "you nearly won the league".

Everton took the lead in the 40th minute when Gueye's free-kick took a wicked deflection off Declan Rice's head as he jumped to block the ball, looping past wrong-footed Arsenal keeper David Raya into the far corner.

To their credit, the Gunners refused to surrender, equalising just three minutes later when Tomiyasu met Martin Odegaard's pass with a fine finish that whistled past Jordan Pickford from just inside the area.

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

They were briefly celebrating again after a false rumour spread that West Ham had equalised.

Dragged from despair to hope and back again within seconds, Arsenal were four points behind City in the 'as it stands' table at half-time.

Arsenal's players gathered in a huddle as they prepared to make one final push in the second half, but Havertz wasted two chances to give them life, nodding wide and then heading against the bar.

Rodri's 59th minute goal for City was met with silence in the Emirates stands.

And when Havertz stabbed home in the closing stages, Arsenal had already come to terms with the end of their title hopes.

Y.Bouchard--BTB