Five talking points from our final day victory

Kai Havertz scores against Everton

A record-breaking season came to an end with a 2-1 win over Everton, but the scoreline at Emirates Stadium told only half the tale of a dramatic final day. 

Here are five talking points from the afternoon:

A surreal atmosphere

This was the first time since 1999 that we had been involved in the Premier League title race on the last day of the season. Back then of course there was no social media, so information didn’t flow as easily among the stands - rumour and counter-rumour could not take hold like it did today.

It certainly affected the atmosphere. We kicked off amid a deafening noise in the north London sunshine. The team responded, creating a couple of early chances, but as news of Manchester City’s early goals circulated, the feeling in the stadium and the performance both fell flat. 

Then a flurry of activity. Everton took the lead, we levelled and West Ham pulled one back up at City all in the space of five minutes. Then another cheer erupted, but rumours that West Ham had equalised proved false. Either way, all of a sudden the four-goal swing we needed at one point was cut to two at half-time, and momentum was with us.

City scoring early in the second half was another blow, but it would all have been academic anyway had we not got the points ourselves, so full credit to the players to keep fighting until the final whistle of the season, and eventually get the winner. It gave the Emirates crowd the winning send-off they deserved. 

A season to be proud of

Our tally of 89 points this season is our second most in a single Premier League campaign, after the 90 earned by our title-winning Invincibles side of 2003/04. It matched Man City’s haul from last season and would have been enough to win the title in 20 of the previous 31 Premier League seasons.

We also scored 91 goals, our record in the Premier League and most in any top-flight season since 1952/53. It was all achieved with the third youngest squad in the division, giving a sense that there is still much more to come from this upwardly mobile side. 

In the first half of last season we took 50 points from 19 games, in the second half of this we took 49 points from 19 games – combine those two halves and we would have amassed 99 points over a season. The numbers keep stacking up. Our record in all competitions was P52 W35 D7 L10 F113 A43, meaning our win percentage was 67.3% – the highest of any Arsenal season on record. 

Record breaker William

William Saliba completed the full game again, thereby becoming the first Arsenal outfield to play every single minute of a Premier League season. The last player to do it for us was Lee Dixon, back in 1989/90. Our French centre-back has arguably been the outstanding defender in the league this season, playing a huge part in us having the best defensive record in the top flight. 

We conceded just league goals 29 all season, five fewer than Manchester City. It’s easy to forget that this is just Saliba’s second season in English football, the 23-year-old has made a fantastic impact in that time, and we will never know just how costly his injury-enforced absence at the end of last season was.

Return of Timber

With 20 minutes remaining, Jurrien Timber made his long-awaited return to action, having missed almost all of his debut season through injury. The Dutch defender had impressed throughout pre-season but then suffered an ACL injury during the opening-day win over Nottingham Forest. His reward for months of hard work since then though was to play a role on the final day, and he looked determined to make up for last time. 

He immediately snapped into a challenge to start a counterattack, then moments later beat a couple of players just outside the area before being brought down. He then won a corner and was booked for a late challenge in a frantic first few minutes on the pitch. Afterwards, he said it was hugely important for him to get minutes in the legs before heading away for the summer, and is determined to be in good shape heading into next season. 

13 in a row

This was the 13th consecutive Premier League season that we have signed off with a win. We have won more final-day fixtures than any other side, 23 now in all. The last time we finished with a defeat was 2004/05 – away to Birmingham City. The last time we lost at home was more than 30 years ago, 3-1 against Tottenham in 1992/93. But on both occasions we went on to win the FA Cup final, so neither season ended on a low. 

This too should not feel like a low, we ended the campaign with a run of 16 wins and one draw from our last 18 games, incredible form that would have resulted in silverware so often before.

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