Arsenal celebrate St Totteringham's Day as Spurs implode
Gunners grab second place on the final day of the season as Tottenham capitulate against relegated Newcastle
Arsenal 4 Aston Villa 0.
There's never been a St Totteringham's Day like it. Not for Arsenal fans, nor for the Tottenham faithful, who watched in stunned disbelief as their hopes of finishing second - and above their north London rivals for the first time since 1995 - were blown away at St James' Park.
Spurs not only lost to Newcastle, relegated last week to the Championship, they were humiliated 5-1. As their fans sat with their heads in their hands, they couldn't help but glance at their phones to see how Arsenal were doing.
They were doing well, and social media sites were awash with gloating Gunners rejoicing in the downfall of their bitter rivals, reports The Sun.
Arsenal hit the ground running at the Emirates, and it only took five minutes for Olivier Giroud to score the first of his three goals with a pin-point accurate header. The Frenchman broke a four-month goal drought last week against Manchester City, and the goals are now raining in. His second came on 78 minutes, a deft finish from Mesut Ozil's cross, and two minutes later he lashed in his third and 24th of the season.
The final word of a wonderful afternoon for Arsenal fans came from club captain Mikel Arteta. Sort of. The 34-year-old Spanish midfielder is leaving the club at the end of a season bedevilled by injury, and he marked his final (and 150th) appearance with a stoppage time shot that went into the net via the back of Villa keeper Mark Bunn. He was credited with an own goal but Arteta and the fans celebrated as if it was all his own work.
Arteta shed a few tears at the end of the game, and there was emotion on show, too, from Tomas Rosicky, looking on from the sidelines ahead of his departure after ten years at the Emirates. In his programme notes Arteta paid tribute to Arsene Wenger, saying: "What I will take from him more than anything is the way he's managed the club - the way he handles the pressure and prioritises the principles, ambitions and restrictions of the club...he has the whole picture. Even with massive pressure, he's not guided by it. He's guided by his feelings and what he thinks for the club."
It's been a rollercoaster season for Wenger, who's endured unprecedented criticism from the fans this season, but who nonetheless has steered Arsenal to their highest league finish since 2005.
"We are not happy by being second, but 18 other teams would be happy to be in our position," he said. "We wanted to be first, but you cannot say first is good and all the rest is rubbish. We have made over 70 points and in the Premier League that’s not easy... the only target before the game was to finish second and we achieved it, so at least today the supporters had some satisfaction."
At the other end of the country there was nothing but dissatisfaction for Tottenham. A fortnight ago they were still in the title hunt, but one point in their final three games wrecked nine months of good work. "I would like to apologise to our fans," said Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. "They don’t deserve all that happened today on the pitch and I apologise. It was a shame and difficult to understand."
Pochettino, who signed a new deal last week that keeps him at White Hart Lane until 2021, will be concerned at the way his team have folded since throwing away a 2-0 lead against Chelsea a fortnight ago. That 2-2 draw ended their title ambitions and with those dreams went the players' morale. "It is the worst day as a manager and I feel very disappointed," admitted Pochettino. "We need to be sure that never happens again and need to improve our mentality. We were on holiday and that is the reality."
Meanwhile down in north London, the Arsenal fans celebrated the start of the football holidays with a song for their neighbours. "It's happened again," they sang, as for the 21st season the Gunners finished above Tottenham.