Another Goal from Idrissa Gueye is Superseded by a Disastrous Moment from Michael Oliver as Handball Snafu sees Arsenal take all Three Points on the Final Day.

Comfortable and on the beach were two descriptors most Everton supporters were likely not expecting to hear regarding the toffees only a few months ago. However, with relegation safely beaten a time ago, Sean Dyche and Company went to the Emirates with nothing to play for and nothing to lose. Calvert-Lewin played as the lone striker ahead of Doucoure, who led a midfield trio of Onana and Gueye. McNeil and Garner retained their roles out wide, with Seamus Coleman and Ashley Young either side of Branthwaite and Tarkowski, with Pickford of course retaining his position in goal.

The opening half was a slow-burn on the final day, with Arsenal’s long shot hope of a title fizzling away in only a couple minutes as Manchester City opened the scoring at the Etihad, dousing the atmosphere for the gunners. An early chance for Arsenal was the first real moment to speak of, as Tomiyasu met a Declan Rice cross at the back post unmarked but could not steer his effort home to put the hosts in front. Pickford was also called upon to make a couple of big saves, including a brilliant effort to deny Martinelli in the 15th minute as the Arsenal attacker burned the toffees’ backline.

The 30th minute saw a massive moment for Everton, and it was a beautiful stroke of counter-attacking football. Idrissa Gueye started the charge from inside his own half before eventually finding Dominic Calvert-Lewin. He did well to beat his defender off the dribble and fired a fizzing effort towards the near post that unfortunately met the post and bounced away. However, only 10 minutes later, the blues would score a surprise opening goal and it was once again surprise (if you can even say as much anymore) goal scorer Idrissa Gueye. The midfielder stepped up from a free kick just outside the box, he hit it well and it took a big deflection off the head of Declan Rice and in to give Everton a 0-1 lead.

Unfortunately, the good vibes in the away end were cut short, as Arsenal surged forward three minutes later. Odegaard did well down the right hand side and sent a fizzing pass across the box which Tomiyasu dispatched with a very decent finish into the bottom corner to bring the score back level. Following the halftime break, Arsenal would be the first to take on the goal scoring threat.

Havertz raced through on goal beating Branthwaite, but the superb center back got back with blazing speed to end the threat from a very difficult position as he has done so many times this season. Arsenal would continue to control the possession, but Everton were once again making life difficult for the Gunners, with a defensive shape and a solidity in midfield that has become the norm under Sean Dyche. Through this persistence, Everton would get the next chance in the 64th minute, as Calvert–Lewin cut inside on the edge of the box and whizzed a curling effort towards goal that required a good save from Raya to keep out.

It was nearly a second for Arsenal seven minutes later however, as Odegaard sent a powerful strike towards Jordan Pickford, and in a dual effort, he and Branthwaite somehow managed to keep the ball out of the net to keep the scores level. It would be more and more Arsenal pressure as the game got into its later stages, and after it seemed like perhaps Everton might get over the finish line with a very well-earned point, Arsenal found the winner.

Ashley Young attempted to play a cross field ball inside his own half and it was intercepted, the Gunners raced forward and Havertz was eventually on hand to fire Arsenal ahead. However, VAR communicated to Michael Oliver that Gabriel Jesus had controlled the pass from Young with his arm, and told him to take a look. Somehow, after a look at the monitors, Oliver decided that this very clear handball was not a handball and awarded the goal anyway. A truly unfortunate decision for an Everton side that deserved a result on the day, and another showing of the disastrous standard of refereeing in the Premier League.

Fortunately for Everton, the result did not mean to much, and it was a good performance despite the loss. Unfortunately for Arsenal, Arteta’s side came just two points short of hoisting the Premier League title. Sean Dyche and company would most certainly call this season a success, finishing in 15th, winning a total of 48 points, and comfortably avoiding relegation. After three straight seasons of flirtations with the Championship, the last season at Goodison Park could provide the toffees with the motivation and momentum they need to start the first season at the new stadium on a very strong note.

As always, it has been a pleasure working with The Toffee Blues this season. As an American Everton supporter it is an amazing thing to have such a great relationship with so many awesome people who live and breathe Everton across the pond. A shoutout to John Barlow, owner and administrator of the Toffee Blues, and a shoutout to everyone else who, alongside myself, contributed to another fantastic year. Until August, here’s to a blistering summer transfer window.


Jacob Ritchie 


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