Everton 3 Arsenal 0
(Naismith 14, Lukaku 34, Arteta og, 61)

Arsenal suffered their seventh Premiership loss of the season, a season which promised to deliver on many fronts, but as in recent seasons, the Gunners are left with fighting for a fourth place finish, albeit this time around with an FA Cup semi- final at Wembley to look forward to. Goals from Steven Naismith, Romleu Lukaku in the first half combined with Mikel Arteta’s second half own goal ensured that after February’s 5-1 loss at Anfield, Arsene Wenger’s side endured another miserable day on Merseyside. Arsenal remain in fourth place but Everton are now a solitary point behind and with a game in hand.

” Our performance was not convincing, defensively not offensively. Everton were better than us and deserved to win,” said Wenger.

“It’s a very disappointing result and a very disappointing performance, the two go together and we have to regroup, come back to basics and prepare well for our next game. I congratulate Everton on a convincing performance,” he continued.

Some good news for Wenger came in the shape of Aaron Ramsey who showed no adverse affects after his first taste of action since December’s thigh injury had sidelined the Welshman.

Fourteen minutes had elapsed when Naismith pounced on Lukaku’s rebounded effort which Wojciech Szczesny found too hot to handle for the game’s opener. The Gunners’ rearguard seemed shocked and not remotely like the cohesive unit that had been in fine form earlier this season. Buoyed on from their opener, and causing all sorts of problems for the visitors, Everton doubled their lead. Once he had the ball on the right, Lukaku weaved his way to create an opening which he duly buried low and beyond the dive of Szczesny.

Lukas Podolski tried to get the Gunners going with a shot which looped but Tim Howard managed to tip over his bar. Further half chances did little to trouble Howard’s goal. Arsenal tried to get a grip early in the second half but the blue line held firm.

Just past the hour mark, Bacary Sagna was disposed high up the pitch by Kevin Mirallas. Everton surged forward and although Naismith’s shot was saved by Szczesny, the under under pressure Arteta had the last touch as the home side trebled their advantage.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struck the bar late on, and when Yaya Sanogo finally beat Howard, the goal was deemed offside, even though the Arsenal striker was level at worse. Still when you’re out of luck, the damage just continues, leaving Wenger to stress over Arsenal’s Champions League finish for next season.

” I’m absolutely 100 per cent determined to fight to make the top four. But it will be difficult. We still have a programme that is feasible but we have first I think to focus on the quality of our performances before we dream of places. Let’s get back to playing better than that.

” At the moment we lack a bit of confidence to be really dangerous and we lack penetration as well. You feel from outside that the penetration and incisiveness of our game is missing through the runs and through the passes. Both of them together make it difficult,” accepted Wenger.

Worryingly for him and Arsenal, this has happened all to often in seasons past. Arresting that demise and getting their belief back is now crucial in the end of season run in.