MANCHESTER, England — Quite when Arsenal knew it was all over is difficult to pinpoint. Hope might still have lingered after Manchester City’s first goal, roughly 370 seconds into a game that had been billed as the great showdown of the Premier League season. Some small sliver of optimism might even have survived the second, delivered on a satellite delay just before halftime.
The third, though, would have extinguished it, pulled it from its roots, razed any sign of its existence, salted the Earth so that it might never grow again.
Rob Holding stood with his hands on his hips, staring off into the middle distance. Gabriel Magalhaes sunk to his haunches. Thomas Partey clapped, twice, to try to urge on his teammates, but lost heart halfway through and stopped. It had all gone: the game, the hope, the wild, fabulous illusion that this might all end with Arsenal as champion.