For the first time since the 1997-98 season Arsenal FC may not make it to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League Tournament. Arsenal is sitting in the fourth spot of the Premier League and gave up control of the club’s Champions League spot with a loss to Everton FC earlier today.
Everton placed Arsenal on the defensive early in the match. A near goal within the first couple minutes of play set the tone of the game. Everton netted two goals if the first half of the match. The first goal off a shot from Steven Naismith and the second ball to find the back of the net was off of a strike from Romelu Lukaku. A third goal came in the second half for Everton, off of the foot of Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta in an attempt to clear the ball.
With the win, Everton now controls the fate of Arsenal. It is absolutely a must that Arsenal wins the rest of the games to keep any hope alive to head to the Champions League. Arsenal leads Everton by 1 point after todays loss. Everton has six games left and Arsenal has only five games remaining for the season. Even if Arsenal wins the five remaining matches, in order for the club to continue on, Everton must drop at least one game.
The Champions League may not seem normal if Arsenal FC can not make it in this season. And Arsenal has no one to blame other than themselves. The team started off the season strong. In March a loss to Stroke City FC was a loss of three points that Arsenal needed badly and should have been able to win. Later in March Arsenal tied with Swansea City and a win there would have put the club in cruise control on the way to the Champions League.
Everton, while in fifth place, is now in the driver’s seat. As long as they win each of the final six matches on the schedule, the club will pass Arsenal in points and take over fourth place. If that happens it would be the first ever appearance for the club from Merseyside in the Champions League.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was extremely disappointed in the performance of his club today that led to a disappointing loss for the club. Wenger is determined not to give up and will push his squad to finish strong and hope that Everton stumbles in just one of their final games to keep Arsenal’s hopes alive.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez was happy with the win, but knows that the club has 18 more points to earn in order for them to pass Arsenal in the standings. It was a boost to his team psychologically, and a good win. The team needs to carry that into the next match and continue to fight for the clubs first Champions League appearance.
If Arsenal FC does not make it to the Champions League it may well end up being a banner day for Everton. The fight for fourth place should result in both Everton and Arsenal providing some exciting matches until the end of the season.
Commentary by Carl Auer