Match ends, Arsenal 4, Aston Villa 0.
Arsenal 4-0 Aston Villa
Arsenal finished second in the Premier League for the first time since 2005 as they beat relegated Aston Villa thanks to an Olivier Giroud hat-trick.
Giroud headed Arsenal ahead early on but the hosts played nervously until he struck again, sweeping home from six yards after good work by Mesut Ozil.
The Frenchman was then put through by Hector Bellerin for his third.
Mark Bunn's own goal, diverting in Mikel Arteta's ricocheted shot, added further gloss to the scoreline.
The comprehensive win ensured Arsenal leapfrogged faltering Tottenham - title contenders only a few weeks ago - after their north London rivals fell apart against Newcastle.
"It's happened again," sang Gunners fans at the end as they celebrated finishing above Spurs for the 21st consecutive season.
A fine end to a disappointing season
Victory over relegated Villa, a team which has not won an away game in any competition since the opening day of the season at Bournemouth, ought to have been a given, and it was - but it wasn't until the final 15 minutes that the home fans could truly relax.
By finishing second the Gunners have qualified for the Champions League for a 19th consecutive season, but this has been a particularly testing campaign for Arsene Wenger, whose critics point to the club's failure to mount a title challenge despite topping the table at the beginning of the year.
The Frenchman has said the club will have to "add what we missed" this season, admitting his team did not score enough goals and, for the majority of this match, the absence of a killer instinct was a familiar criticism.
One player the Gunners have clearly missed for the majority of the season is Santi Cazorla, injured since November but returning to the starting line-up against Villa. The Spaniard conducted play beautifully and, at times, his touches were something to behold.
As Villa's resistance tired Arsenal took advantage, with Giroud capitalising to score his first Premier League hat-trick and take his tally to 24 in total this season.
Arteta and Rosicky say goodbye
Mikel Arteta, who has made 150 appearances since joining from Everton in 2011, winning two FA Cups during his time with the Gunners, played his final match for the club as his contract expires this summer.
The Spaniard, introduced as an 88th-minute substitute, thought he had scored for a perfect finale only for the 90th-minute strike to be deemed a Bunn own goal, and once the final whistle blew, the club captain could not contain his tears.
Arteta had summed up Arsenal's season in his captain's notes, writing that the team's ambition this season was to win the Premier League and failing to do so was "not good enough for this club".
It was also the final Arsenal game for Tomas Rosicky, who is also out of contract. He received a special award before the match for his decade at the club.
There was no place in the matchday squad for Theo Walcott who had, said the club, a slight hamstring injury and the forward's absence will bring his participation in this summer's European Championships into doubt.
But Roy Hodgson, watching from the stands, will have been pleased to see midfielder Jack Wilshere make his first Arsenal start since the final game of last season and play for 69 minutes before being substituted.
A miserable end to a miserable season
Villa's inevitable relegation was confirmed a month ago and the end of a painful season will no doubt come as a relief. They finished with a total of 17 points - the lowest in the club's history, even when including seasons when it was two points for a win.
The club's hierarchy have many issues to address before they prepare for life in the Championship.
Caretaker coach Eric Black, who has failed to win any of his seven matches in charge, has unsurprisingly said he expects to leave, so a new manager must be found, though talk of new owners makes the issue more complex.
It was not all one-way traffic at the Emirates as Villa did threaten with Jordan Ayew the visitors' most influential player.
He could have immediately equalised, opting to pass across goal when shooting may have been a better option, and Villa could have levelled after the break with the weaving Ayew again propelling his team forward.
The striker set up Scott Sinclair, who narrowly shot wide of the far post, and Jordan Lyden's subsequent cutback swept away from danger by the covering Bellerin.
Man of the Match - Santi Cazorla
The stats you need to know
- Arsenal finished in the top two of the Premier League for the first time since the 2004/05 campaign.
- Olivier Giroud's first Premier League hat-trick was the 37th scored in the competition by an Arsenal player, which is more than any other team.
- Giroud has scored 16 Premier League goals this season, his joint-best return in the competition (also 16 in 2013/14).
- Mesut Ozil created 146 chances this season, the most of any player in a single Premier League campaign since 2003/04.
- Ozil's final tally of 19 assists is bettered only by Thierry Henry's 20 in 2002/03.
- 19CazorlaSubstituted forCampbellat 88'minutes
- 10WilshereSubstituted forElnenyat 69'minutes
- 11ÖzilSubstituted forArtetaat 88'minutes
- 38LydenSubstituted forGrealishat 75'minutes
- 16LescottSubstituted forRichardsat 65'minutes
- 24C SánchezBooked at 39mins
- 19J Ayew
- Mark Clattenburg
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Arsenal 4, Aston Villa 0.
Own Goal by Mark Bunn, Aston Villa. Arsenal 4, Aston Villa 0.
Attempt saved. Mikel Arteta (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.
Attempt missed. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is too high. Assisted by Francis Coquelin.
Attempt missed. Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Mikel Arteta with a through ball.
Substitution, Arsenal. Joel Campbell replaces Santiago Cazorla.
Substitution, Arsenal. Mikel Arteta replaces Mesut Özil.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match (Arsenal).
Attempt saved. Micah Richards (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Ashley Westwood with a cross.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Laurent Koscielny.
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Leandro Bacuna.
Attempt saved. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Mesut Özil with a through ball.
Attempt blocked. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Idrissa Gueye.
Foul by Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal).
Leandro Bacuna (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Nacho Monreal (Arsenal).
Leandro Bacuna (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Arsenal 3, Aston Villa 0. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Héctor Bellerín with a through ball.