It was a pair of tackles on a night of spectacular Premier League goals that had the most significant impact on the hard-fought Champions League qualifying race. Chelsea got the most benefit from the two results.
Chelsea’s 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace was only won due to a spectacular last-ditch effort from center back Kurt Zouma, who somehow set up position to steer the ball away when Christian Benteke was about to fire late in stoppage time.
Arsenal’s Set Back
Instead, hours later at a rain-soaked Emirates Stadium, Arsenal was winning 1-0 against Leicester and on track for a victory that would have flung open the battle for a place in the top four when a clear red card was given to replacement striker Eddie Nketiah for a studs-first lunge on James Justin in the 75th minute.
Nine minutes later, Jamie Vardy equalized to secure a 1-1 tie, handing Arsenal’s impossible dreams of breaking into the top five a major setback.
The two outcomes placed Chelsea third and a point ahead of Leicester. Who eventually fell to fourth following a disappointing league showing after late January. Manchester United is four points behind in fifth position. Which would ensure Champions League status if second-place Manchester City struggles to lift its European suspension of two years.
Arsenal stayed seventh, with only four games remaining, five points behind United. United’s game at hand is on Thursday against Aston Villa.
Lampard is happy
Coach of Chelsea Frank Lampard appeared more happy than overjoyed. When his side managed to hang on to their lead over Palace.
Moments before Zouma’s challenge. Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga had hurled to his right to tip a Scott Dann header into the wall.
“The nerves are not good,” Lampard said.
By the 27th minute at Selhurst Park. Chelsea raced into a 2-0 advantage on goals by Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic. The American winger’s third in five games to sustain his fine form after the restart.
After Wilfried Zaha with a 25-meter screamer pulled a goal back. Tammy Abraham’s replacement regained Chelsea’s two-goal advantage. Only for Benteke to set up what proved to be a frenzied finale. By scoring a home goal for the first time since April 2018.