That’s it from me. Thanks for your company and correspondence, and sorry not to get through all the emails.
The last word goes to a Guardian colleague, popping up on Twitter. “I mean @TimdeLisleI’ve appreciated your updates today, ”says Alexandra Topping,“ but if you compare Frank [Lampard] to Sam Allardyce again I’m going to leave a custard pie on your chair at work. ” The proof is in the pudding.
Arsenal, meanwhile, can clinch their slot in the top four on Thursday. All they have to do is win at Spurs.
They are on 66 points from 35 games, four more than Spurs and one fewer than Chelsea. All three have played 35 games. Arsenal’s chances of making the Champions League, according to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEightare now 77 per cent.
And Everton hold on to win at Leicester! That was not in the script.
So Everton are a point ahead of both Burnley and Leeds, with a game in hand. Leeds are on 34 points, the same as Burnley, but are in effect a point behind because their goal difference is awful (-35) while Burnley’s is not too bad (-17). Both of them have three games to go while Everton have four. And Frank Lampard is looking suspiciously like the new Sam Allardyce.
Arsenal cling on and help themselves to three big points. Poor old Leeds sink into the bottom three – but since going down to ten men in the 27th minute, they’ve actually won this game 1-0. There’s nothing wrong with their spirit.
90 + 3 min Leeds win the header in the box, and get a second attempt on target, but it’s a simple catch for Ramsdale.
90 + 3 min Laca gives away a free kick on the halfway line, so Meslier is on his bike again!
90 min Leeds can not capitalize on the corner and for a moment Meslier is in danger of being even more embarrassed than he was in the fifth minute, as Arsenal break away. A Leeds defender tidies up on the halfway line.
Nketiah’s hat-trick is not going to happen after all. He goes off, to a big hand, and Lacazette comes on for the three added minutes.
89 min Leeds have a corner! Thanks to Llorente again, who sent a nice chip forward for James (I think) to chase. Meslier goes up for it.
“Predictable surely,” says Rick Harris, “that West Ham would flatten Norwich, but their last two games are Manchester City and Brighton, both away. They will not get anything out of the first one as City cruise to the title, and Brighton aren’t going to roll over for them either, so while I can see Palace beating on the beach United, I can not see West Ham picking up the three points they would need to dump United into the Europa Conference League. Plus it would be just like United to go to Palace and win. ”
86 min Leeds, still pressing away, are praying for two things here: another juicy set piece for themselves, or a goal for Leicester against Everton. Arsenal are keeping the ball well without showing the ruthlessness that the situation demands.
85 min Arsenal take an age over the free kick and then Odegaard chips it straight to Meslier.
83 min Smith Rowe’s quick feet win a free kick just outside the D.
“Extremely unlikely that Arsenal will pip Spurs on goal difference or goals scored, ”said Danyal Dhondy, before the Leeds goal. “Even if this game finishes 6-0, they would need Spurs to lose by 4+ goals against either Burnley or Norwich (that’s assuming that in the meantime Spurs beat Arsenal by a single goal, win their other game 1-0 and Arsenal draw against Newcastle and Everton). Other permutations are possible, but equally unlikely … ”
81 min The commentators are discussing Odegaard. Alan Smith reckons he’s now worth double the £ 30m Arteta paid for him. “Does not like a day off,” Smith adds, “always comes in.”
78 min Smith Rowe finally gets a go as Martinelli goes off, to a well-earned round of applause. Arsenal’s second goal was nearly all down to him.
74 min Jack Harrison, Leeds’ man of the past month, makes a fine tricky run down the left, only to mess up the easy bit, a simple ball to Rodrigo. Arsenal then have their umpteenth shot – 17th, I suspect – as Odegaard screws a low shot just wide.
73 min The team sheets are out for Man City v Newcastle, with Kieran Trippier back on the bench. Do feel free to join Rob Smyth for that one.
71 min Arteta makes his first change, but it’s not Laca or Smith Rowe who comes on. It’s Nicolas Pepe, replacing Saka on the right wing.
69 min Leeds are now playing with a bit of belief. As Alan Smith says, they’ve suddenly forgotten that they’re a man short. Tomiyasu goes into the book for felling James.
You what? Leeds get their first corner, there’s a neat flick-on and Diego Llorente is there, unmarked at the far post, to cash in with a crisp shot. That was Leeds’ first attempt!
65 min West Ham have a fourth at Norwich. Their goal difference is now 11, to Man United’s one. As a United fan, I have to say that if my team ends up in the Europa Conference League, they will richly deserve it.
62 min Soares, at right-back, is getting so much space that he’s turning into Cedric Alexander-Arnold. His latest cross is chested down by Xhaka (I think) for Martinelli, who again misses the target. On the bench, Lacazette and Smith Rowe must be champing at the bit.
60 minutes Martinelli, clean through, can not quite bring the ball under control, so his shot loops over the bar. On the hour, Marsch plays his final card: Raphinha off, in case his yellow card turns red, and Rodrigo on. It’s hard to see it making much difference.
57 min Four corners in a row for Arsenal, who stand third behind Man City and Liverpool in the goals-from-corners table this season. But they do not score from this lot: Leeds eventually get the ball away with a hoof from Struijk.
55 min Leeds manage half a minute of possession and win a couple of free kicks, but it’s all in their own half. Dan James and Granit Xhaka get into a bit of argy-bargy before Arsenal resume the attack and Martinelli draws a save from Meslier with a crisp shot. He’s been the man of the match so far.
51 min Leeds are hell-bent on damage limitation, gathering everyone behind the ball in a 4-3-2 formation. The latest attempt on goal comes from Gabriel, but he’s falling over and only gets half a foot on the ball, so Meslier has no trouble collecting it.
48 min A teasing curling cross from Odegaard on the right is inches away from a tap-in for Xhaka, of all people.
46 min Mateusz Klich, who picked up a yellow, has been taken off and replaced by Lewis Bate, who is only 19. A calculated risk from Jesse Marsch, who leaves himself with only one more card to play as his team get tired.
It’s 51 years today since Arsenal won the double. Charlie George, Bob Wilson, George Graham and the gang have been out on the pitch at the Emirates to mark the anniversary. Guess which of them is in the rock-star shades.
Everton are still 2-1 up at Leicester, against the run of their entire season. And West Ham, bouncing back from the bitter end of their Europa League run, are 3-0 up at Norwich, so as it stands they’s three points behind Man United with a game in hand and far better goal difference.
“Good morning from Pittsburgh!” says Eric Peterson. “At this rate, when all is said and done, the relegation race ultimately may be defined by two rushes of blood to the head. One: Everton’s Jordan Pickford, as a result of using his face to save that point-blank shot from Antonio Rudiger last week. Two: Leeds’ Luke Ayling, making him not properly consider the wisdom of a two-footed sliding tackle into the ankles of Gabriel Martinelli. ” Yes, it’s all gone a bit Coldplay.