sport news How Arsenal's season fell apart: Arteta's row with Aubameyang and imploding in ... trends now
Arsenal's season started with a whimper and ended with one too. Monday night's chastening defeat at St James' Park will sting for the team, who know Champions League football was within their grasp and is now all but lost.
Players collapsed to the turf at full time following their dismal 2-0 loss to Newcastle with a collective feeling that they had blown their shot at returning to Europe's elite for the first time in six years.
All Arsenal can do now is do their job - by beating lowly Everton on the final day and hope that Spurs lose to already-relegated Norwich City at Carrow Road. It's possible, but it's a longshot, and Mikel Arteta will be extremely frustrated that their fate has been taken out of their hands.
Just weeks ago Arsenal looked to be cruising in the race for the coveted fourth spot. After beating Aston Villa 1-0 in March they were four points clear of Man United with a game in hand and six clear of Spurs.
But their inconsistencies have come back to bite them. They've won four and lost five games since then, and are now two points off Tottenham ahead of their final day match against the Toffees.
Sportsmail has taken a look at the crucial moments in Arsenal's turbulent season that the club will look back at with regret as they prepare for another campaign of bitter disappointment.
Arsenal's Champions League hopes hang by a thread after their dismal 2-0 loss to Newcastle
The Gunners were second best for 90 minutes despite needing to win to boost top four bid
Mikel Arteta has watched his players cave in under pressure on a number of occasions
They say you should start as you mean to go on, but the way Arsenal kicked off the season was a sign they could get sucked into a relegation battle.
Indeed, three straight losses without scoring a single goal left the Gunners rock bottom of the table heading into September's international break - with a 5-0 hammering by Manchester City leaving the team bruised and searching for answers.
Arsenal were given a tough start to the campaign, but it was the manner in which they performed that was most shocking. Tasked with giving Brentford a Premier League welcome on the opening day, they were bullied by the Bees at the Brentford Community Stadium and were well beaten 2-0.
Arsenal endured the worst possible start to the season - losing three in a row without scoring
They were hammered 5-0 by Man City to ensure they were rock bottom at the end of August
A team who has just come up from the Championship should be given a stern reminder of the level required in the top flight, but instead Arsenal rolled over and were taught a lesson.
The next two games were daunting - a home clash against Chelsea before travelling to the Etihad to face City, and they duly lost both.
The three consecutive defeats left Mikel Arteta as one of the favourites to be sacked first in the Premier League, before he managed to secure two nervy 1-0 wins against Norwich and Burnley after the international break.
AUBAMEYANG SAGA AND TRANSFER WOES
Arsenal's transfer business was a mixed bag, you could say, at both ends.
The club spent around £150million on new signings last summer, and fans were initially left happy with the majority of their dealings.
Midfielder Martin Odegaard had impressed on loan and came in for £30m. Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu both looked like solid additions to the back four and Aaron Ramsdale went on to claim the No 1 jersey from Bernd Leno.
But Albert Sambi Lokonga's displays have left a lot to be desired after arriving from Anderlecht with much promise while left-back Nuno Tavares has largely had a season to forget and was infamously hauled off at half-time during their 3-0 loss against Crystal Palace.
Arsenal spent £150m last summer but some signings - including Nuno Tavares - were misfires
Arteta fell out with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after three disciplinary breaches
And in December, with Arsenal finally looking to get a grip on fourth spot and putting some form together, the squad were hit by an unwelcome distraction.
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang began to butt heads with Arteta, which deflected attention away from their positive results on the pitch.
After failing to return to the club from a trip away and being dropped from the squad to face Southampton, Arteta took the decision to strip him of his armband, claiming he had not shown 'passion and commitment to the team.
Just weeks later, he signed for Barcelona on a free transfer, despite having 18 months to run on his £350,000 per week deal that he had only signed in late 2020.
Aubameyang left for Barcelona, but Arsenal failed to bring in a new striker to replace him
Aubameyang's relationship with Arteta was clearly at breaking point following a second disciplinary breach under his leadership, and although he began banging in the goals for the LaLiga giants soon after his arrival, it was clear the two parties needed a divorce.
But Arsenal's failure to sign a replacement striker in January was most baffling, as Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah were left as the only recognised strikers at the club, both having three Premier League goals between them and both on course to leave the club on free transfers in the summer.
That lack of top quality striker has hurt Arsenal in their top four race - while the quality of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min has put them on the brink of pipping them to the final spot.
LACK OF DISCIPLINE
When your own captain is flouting the club's code of conduct and failing to set an example, you know there is an issue.
Ill discipline at the Emirates has been an outstanding problem for many years, and one Arteta has not yet managed to find an answer to.
Arteta was supposed to transform Arsenal from being a soft side into one that can regularly compete for a top four spot, trophies and eventually titles.
Arsenal have 13 red cards under Arteta since 2019, and four of those have come this season
While they may no longer be seen as 'soft', the team has managed to go to the other extreme and lose their cool on the pitch.
After Rob Holding's red card in last week's crucial North London Derby, Arsenal have now