Chelsea into 3rd place, Arsenal held by Leicester
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 were 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 equalised 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, who finally dropped to fourth after a poor run of results in the league since late January. Manchester United are four points back in fifth place, who will secure qualification for the Champions League if second-place Manchester City fail to overturn their 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 tomorrow.
It was a contrasting night for two of Arsenal's bright young hopes as the team's Champions League ambitions took a hit.
Bukayo Saka, a talented 18-year-old winger, enhanced his reputation with a superb pass to tee up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 21st minute for the striker's 20th league goal of the season.
Arsenal delivered one of their best halves under Mikel Arteta and should have been further ahead by the time another highly rated youngster, 21-year-old Nketiah, came on as a replacement for Alexandre Lacazette and showed poor discipline by lunging at Justin in the centre of the field four minutes later.
The referee initially showed a yellow card but changed his decision to a red after viewing the incident on the pitchside monitor.
"I know Eddie, he is not an aggressive player," Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez said. "He slipped and did not want to injure him, and the red card is harsh."
Vardy's goal was his league-leading 22nd of the season and left Leicester seven points clear of sixth-place Wolverhampton, who play their game in hand against Sheffield United today.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard was more relieved than overjoyed after his team just about managed to hold on to their lead against Palace.
Moments before the tackle from Zouma, goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga had flung himself to his right to tip on to the post a header from Scott Dann.
"Not good for your nerves," Lampard said.
Chelsea rushed into a 2-0 lead by the 27th minute at Selhurst Park through goals by Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic, the American winger's third in five games to maintain his great form since the restart.
After Wilfried Zaha pulled a goal back with a 25-metre screamer, substitute Tammy Abraham regained the two-goal advantage for Chelsea only for Benteke to set up what proved to be a frantic finale by scoring a home goal for the first time since April 2018.