London - Everton crushed a woeful Arsenal side 3-0 at Goodison Park on Sunday to boost their chances of a top four finish and a possible place in next season's Champions League for the first time in nine seasons.
Everton's sixth successive Premier League win meant that although they stayed in fifth place, one behind Arsenal, they are only a point behind the Gunners with a match in hand.
Goals from Steven Naismith after 14 minutes, a superb solo effort from Romelu Lukaku after 34 and a third after 62 when a Kevin Mirallas shot went in off Arsenal's former Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta for an own goal, sent Arsenal crashing to another heavy defeat on Merseyside two months after they lost 5-1 at Liverpool.
Arsenal last failed to play in the Champions League in 1997-98 but on this form their record is under serious threat.
Everton took part in the qualifiers in the 2005-06 season but were eliminated and have never played in the Champions League proper.
On this form Arsenal will need a massive improvement in the closing weeks of the season to stop Everton finishing above them.
They posed little to worry the Everton defence apart from a rasping late shot from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain which Everton keeper Tim Howard tipped on to the bar, and their gloom was completed with Mathieu Flamini's 10th booking of the season ruling him out of next weekend's FA Cup semi-final against holders Wigan Athletic at Wembley.
Liverpool can complete a city double over London teams if they beat West Ham United in the later kickoff (1500 GMT) at Upton Park where a victory or draw would take them back to the top of the table after Chelsea dislodged them following their 3-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday. – Reuters