Everton bolstered their hopes of Champions League football next season by moving to within a point of fourth-placed Arsenal after they beat the Gunners 3-0 in the Premier League at Goodison Park on Sunday.
Goals from Steven Naismith, Romelu Lukaku and an own-goal by Everton old boy Mikel Arteta saw the Toffees, who have a game in hand over Arsenal, record a convincing victory.
Naismith gave the home side a 14th minute lead when, after Lukaku’s shot was kicked clear by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, he side-footed the loose ball into the net.
And 20 minutes later, Roberto Martinez’s side, knocked out of the FA Cup by Arsenal, doubled their lead.
Lukaku, playing on the wing, collected the ball wide on the right, drove past Nacho Monreal and around Thomas Vermaelen before unleashing a powerful left-footed shot past Szcesny from the edge of the box.
North London giants Arsenal, who’ve always qualified for the European club football’s elite Champions League but are now in danger of missing out on a top four finish that would see them into next term’s edition, tried to respond in the second half.
But Arsene Wenger’s visitors, whose season could hang on the outcome of next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against Wigan, fell further behind in the 62nd minute.
Kevin Mirallas dispossessed Bacary Sagna and sprinted off towards goal before playing in Naismith, who was blocked from rounding Szczesny.
But as the ball came loose Mirallas and Arteta tussled for the ball only for Arteta to get the final touch to divert it into the Gunners’ net, with this defeat all but ending Arsenal’s slim hopes of winning the Premier League this season.