This visit to Arsenal, ultimately, was one game too far for Everton.
Frank Lampard made multiple changes to his team but the energy burned by this club three days ago – across six weeks, fraught with emotion and effort and nerves – was irretrievable in time for the conclusion to a 2021/22 campaign that will live long in the memory.
For a couple of Everton players, this will count as an unforgettable day in the capital, regardless of the outcome.
Isaac Price, the 18-year-old from the Club’s Academy, came on with 13 minutes remaining for a Premier League debut.
The midfielder could have added a jewel in the crown on his personally special day but hooked a volleyed effort wide of the near post towards the end.
Price replaced Tom Davies, who played his first competitive football since 7 November.
The 23-year-old suffered ill fortune on top of bad luck this term, a hamstring injury laying him low after the midfielder was originally sidelined by a knee problem.
Davies was energetic and busy and evidently very pleased with this positive development before we packed up for the summer.
The details of this game in brief, to start, then.
Donny van de Beek, on as a first-half substitute, tapped home on the stroke of half-time to send the teams in at 2-1.
Arsenal went in front through Gabriel Martinelli’s 27th-minute penalty and speedily doubled their lead courtesy of Eddie Nketiah.
Cedric Soares restored the hosts’ cushion 11 minutes after half-time, with goals four and five scored by Gabriel Magalhaes and Martin Odegaard, when many pairs of eyes had turned away from the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal gained the advantage to confirm their early superiority with a penalty converted four minutes after the offence that was deemed to have occurred.
The initial shouts for Andre Marriner, the referee, to point to the spot, perfectly fitted the description, ‘half-hearted’.
Martinelli aimed the shot that struck Alex Iwobi by his side and Arsenal claimed for the infringement, albeit the roars stuck in the locals’ throats somewhat.
Marriner wasn’t interested, so on we went, the ball not going out of play for a good two minutes.
When Nuno Tavares thrashed wildly over, the Martinelli-Iwobi incident had been forgotten by most of the 60,000 here.
Not, however, by the VAR, Lee Mason. He eventually told Marriner to traipse across to his pitchside screen.
From there, the official’s decision was inevitable. Martinelli struck the penalty inside Asmir Begovic’s left post.
Begovic, the Everton goalkeeper, was one of six players brought into the starting line-up, fewer than 72 hours after that night of nights at Goodison Park.
Dele, rightly credited with a heavy influence in turning around the game against Crystal Palace that confirmed Everton’s Premier League safety, was another who came in from the beginning.
He’s not popular in this corner of North London, the ex-Tottenham man, and his every move was accompanied by a chorus of jeers.
The home supporters were particularly exercised when Dele went in hard on Cedric– a challenge to epitomise the nature of a contest that was the antithesis of the ‘on-the-beach’ final-day game of popular stereotype.
Granit Xhaka quickly sought retribution on his teammate’s behalf – and ultimately won a corner, which was taken by Bukayo Saka, after Dele and Xhaka continued their exchange of views.
Martinelli, racing to the near post, applied the initial touch to Saka’s delivery, helping the ball on for Nketiah to plant a stooping, headed finish across Begovic.
Everton threatened either side of the hosts’ double strike, primarily via the express boots of Demarai Gray.
Aaron Ramsdale saved above his head when Gray connected cleanly with a 19th-minute drive from outside the box.
Gray was too high with his effort after 38 minutes, after Dele spread a pass for Iwobi to cut a ball into the middle. Cedric tracked Gray all the way and did enough to prevent the forward making convincing contact.
There was more from the direct Gray, savouring a first start in three matches, inside 60 busy seconds shortly before half-time.
Jonjoe Kenny snapped into a tackle on Saka, Davies taking over to feed Gray’s forward run. Gray dodged a flurry of challenges before succumbing to one nibble that he believed was illegal. Marriner didn’t share the Everton player’s take on events.
Arsenal sped to the other end, Nketiah looping a ball for Saka to scurry through. Jarrad Branthwaite stuck to Saka, resisting the urge to challenge following the red card against Brentford for a last-man trip seven days ago, and sufficiently inconveniencing the Arsenal player for the shot to roll off target.
Gray was unable to tame Dele’s ball along the floor from the left byline moments later.
But that wasn’t the last of Everton in the opening 45 minutes. No, Iwobi slipped in Dominic Calvert-Lewin, pulling to the right to send a delivery across the face of goal.
Van de Beek, on since minute 36 for the stricken Abdoulaye Doucoure, drifted in completely unaccompanied to apply the final touch.
The opening 25 minutes followed the blueprint of a number of Everton games of late, as Lampard alighted on a pragmatic method for climbing out of trouble.
Arsenal had most of the ball and primarily funnelled it wide for crosses into the box.
One from Martinelli skimmed the head of Branthwaite and Holgate smacked clear a low Nketiah centre.
Tavares got in behind on Everton’s right to clip over a volleyed centre that Odegaard directed on target.
Begovic made the save, the ball ricocheting off Michael Keane and behind.
Keane applied a block on an Nketiah strike, the bounce then favouring Martinelli, who was denied one-on-one by Begovic.
Nketiah had a chance on the full, from a Xhaka ball arced into the area, but couldn’t control the attempt.
Tavares skied a 20 yarder nine minutes after the restart – but the home team’s next attack concluded with Everton again confronted by a two-goal deficit.
Keane forced the ball behind but from the corner Cedric advanced unchecked to met Saka’s pass to the back of the box with a blistering shot into the roof of the net.
And Arsenal duly repeated their opening-half quickfire one-two.
Indeed, goals three and four were separated by only four minutes.
Saka raced from halfway for a strike the fast-pursuing Branthwaite deflected behind.
The corner was aerial this time and headed out by Calvert-Lewin.
Cedric collected and was urged to shoot as he skirted the fringe of the box. The Portuguese gave in to temptation but scuffed this one.
His luck, however, was in. The ball landed at the feet of Gabriel, whose shot was hit strongly enough to end up in the net despite Begovic’s meaty touch.
Begovic repelled a blast from substitute Albert Sambi Lokonga at his near post and another Arsenal replacement in Alexandre Lacazette curled over from a promising position with 11 minutes remaining.
Price, meanwhile, came on in place of Davies for a first Premier League appearance.
With Anthony Gordon already on for Dele, Everton had used four players from their Academy in this fixture.
A third Arsenal substitute in Nicolas Pepe, though, was next to have a say.
Pepe steered a pass to Odegaard, who flashed his strike across Begovic and into the left corner.
Lacazette zipped another attempt fractionally past the post.
Price had half a chance for a debut goal but he'll have enjoyed his afternoon, nonetheless. The same was true of the noisy Evertonians who journeyed to baking London for game 38 of a tumultuous campaign.