On a night of spectacular goals in the Premier League, it was a pair of tackles that had the most significant impact on the hard-fought race for Champions League qualification.
Chelsea’s 3-2 win at Crystal Palace was only secured thanks to a remarkable last-ditch challenge by centre back Kurt Zouma, who somehow made up ground to divert the ball away as Christian Benteke was about to shoot late in stoppage time.
Then, hours later at a rain-soaked Emirates Stadium, Arsenal was leading 1-0 against Leicester and on course for a win that would have thrown open the fight for a finish in the top four when substitute striker Eddie Nketiah was handed a straight red card in the 75th minute for a studs-first lunge on James Justin.
Jamie Vardy equalized nine minutes later — with a goal that took a while to be confirmed by the video assistant referee — to seal a 1-1 draw, dealing a huge setback to Arsenal’s improbable hopes of climbing into the top five.
The two results left Chelsea in third place and a point clear of Leicester, which finally dropped to fourth after a poor run of results in the league since late January. Manchester United is four points back in fifth place, which will secure qualification for the Champions League if second-place Manchester City fails to overturn its two-year European ban.
Arsenal stayed seventh, five points behind United with only four games remaining. United’s game in hand is against Aston Villa on Thursday.
In the other match on Tuesday, last-place Norwich inched closer to relegation after squandering an early lead to lose 2-1 at Watford and slip 10 points adrift of safety with only four matches remaining.
The winner came from a stunning overhead kick by Danny Welbeck, his first goal for Watford.
It was the best goal of an evening that also featured a long-range thunderbolt by Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and well-taken individual striker by in-form Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic.