Manchester City, Liverpool clinch Champions League places; Arsenal misses out
After 19 seasons in a row, Arsenal will be missing out on the Champions League.
Despite a 3-1 win over Everton at the Emirates on Sunday in its Premier League season finale, Arsenal had to settled for a fifth-place finish, with Manchester City and Liverpool taking care of business to secure third and fourth place, respectively, and Arsenal missing out of the top four by a point.
With Chelsea having wrapped up the title, Tottenham secure in second and Hull City, Middlesbrough and Sunderland already accepting relegation, the league's Champions League places were all that was on the line on Sunday, and for one power, the day was always going to end in disappointment. That team, as it turns out, was Arsenal, and what it means for the future of the club, and longtime manager Arsene Wenger, remains to be seen.
Here is how the final day shook out for the three teams (Full EPL finale scores can be found here):
MANCHESTER CITY (3rd; 78 points, plus-41 goal differential)
Season finale: 5-0 win at Watford
Vincent Kompany got City the early cushion it was hoping for, heading home a fourth-minute tally to give City a 1-0 lead over Watford.
Sergio Aguero doubled the lead after being expertly set up by Kevin De Bruyne, giving City all the cushion it should need to hold on for a third-place finish. (Of course, it's not the most dramatic or impactful season-finale goal Aguero has ever scored...)
Aguero scored his second in the 36th minute on a sensational counterattack, with Sane serving it up to Aguero to make it 3-0 on the day.
Fernandinho padded the lead just before halftime, giving City a 4-0 cushion.
As if there were any doubt, Gabriel Jesus tacked on a fifth in the second half, extending the lead to 5-0.
LIVERPOOL (4th; 76 points, plus-36 goal differential)
Season finale: 3-0 win vs. Middlesbrough
Georginio Wijnaldum scored a massive goal for Liverpool just before halftime, lifting the Reds into fourth in the live table and relieving some tension at Anfield in the process with a powerful near-post finish. At the time, Liverpool was in fifth in the live table until the Dutchman struck.
Liverpool earned some breathing room soon after halftime on a sensational curling free kick, lifting it just over the wall and tucking it inside the far post to make it 2-0.
The breathing became even easier in the 57th minute when Adam Lallana padded the lead to 3-0, all but securing the Reds' place in the Champions League.
ARSENAL (5th; 75 points, plus-32 goal differential)
Season finale: 3-1 win vs. Everton
Arsenal came out firing in desperation at the Emirates and it paid off, with Hector Bellerin following up Danny Welbeck's whiff on a cut-back cross from Mesut Ozil to give the Gunners a 1-0 lead.
The Gunners' quest was made more difficult soon after, though, when Laurent Koscielny was sent off on a straight red card for a flying, two-footed lunge on Enner Valencia.
No matter, Arsenal managed to double its lead in the 27th minute through Alexis Sanchez, who tapped in for the Gunners' second and a vital 2-0 lead, though Liverpool's response later began to render whatever Arsenal did meaningless.
Everton's Romelu Lukaku cut into the lead from the penalty spot after a needless handball, making it 2-1 in the 58th minute.
Aaron Ramsey snapped a personal drought in the 90th minute, but even with the victory, Arsenal will head to the Europa League in disappointing fashion, and a summer of uncertainty is on tap following next weekend's FA Cup final vs. Chelsea.