Manchester City won by a tennis score in one of the most action-packed thrillers in Premier League history.
• Pictures: our pick of the best match images
That was a fantastic game. Some of the defending was abject, but only added to the gaiety of the occasion. Manchester City have spent well over a billion quid in recent years and have certainly spent it well - going on the strength of that performance, you would have to consider them title favourites, although they will need to sort out their away form. Thanks for yopur time and your emails, none of which I've had a chance to look at since kick-off, unfortunately. I'm off for a lie-down after the most action-packed minute-by-minute report I think I've ever done: nine goals, a penalty, some terrible mistakes and near misses from players and officials - this game had it all, apart from ... a red card.
Peep! Peep! Peeeeeeeep! It's all over - Manchester City take all three points, having made it 35 goals in eight Premier League home games in a match that couldn't have been more entertaining if it had donned a top hat, tails, a pair of tap shoes and danced down the steps in the finale of an MGM musical.
The better team won, but Arsenal can and probably will feel very aggrieved that several key decisions went against them at very important moments. Their lead at the top of the Premier League table has been whittled down to three points, so today's defeat is hardly a disaster, but what's certain is that today's match will live long in the memory of anyone lucky enough to see it. I pity the poor bugger who has to try to reduce that to a Match of the Day highlights package. What on earth will he or she leave out?
GOAL! Manchester City 6-3 Arsenal (Toure 90) In the fourth or fifth minute of injury time, Yaya Toure smashes the ball past Wojciech Szczesny to wrap up the first set for Manchester City: 6-3.
90+4 min: Penalty for Manchester City! Szczesny brings down James Milner as Manchester City were once again advancing on the Arsenal goal en masse. Milner felt contact and went down, as he is entitled to do - it was a blatant penalty. Szczesny gets booked for his troubles, presumably avoiding a straight red as the City midfielder was travelling away from goal when the foul occurred.
GOAL! Manchester 5-3 Arsenal (Mertesacker 90)The German centre-half creeps in to get on the end of a beautiful cross from Bacary Sagna to power a header past Pantilimon.
89 min: Nicklas Bendtner heads home to make it 5-3, but his effort is incorrectly ruled out for offside. Arsenal have been deservedly beaten today, but have every right to feel aggrieved with some of the decisions that have gone against them: two poor offsides in the first half when they might have scored had a visibly rattled linesman kept his flag down, a penalty they should have been awarded but wasn't in the second half and now this.
GOAL! Manchester City 5-2 Arsenal (Fernandinho 87) WOw! Fernandinho scores his second of the match, with Arsenal's midfield being over-run once again in the absence of Mathieu Flamini. This time it's Nasri and Fernandinho bearing down on a horribly exposed defence and on the edge of the penalty area, Fernandinho picks out Nasri on the right, runs on to pick up the return pass and deftly lift it over Szczesny for a wonderful finish.
86 min: City advance into the Arsenal half again, with Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas linking up well. They exchange passes, then Jesus Navas crosses for Nasri to finish the move. He miscotrols and the ball appears to clank off his shin and trundle off towards the touchline. James Milner performs heroics to keep the ball in play, then tees up Nasri again. Not for the first time in this game or indeed, paragraph, he squanders the opportunity.
85 min: The increasingly impressive Fernandinho stings the palms of Wojciech Szczesny with a fizzing long-range effort with copious amounts of spin. The goalkeeper does well to palm the ball away and out for a corner, from which nothing comes. Meanwhile, here's a match gallery featuring our snapper Tom Jenkins at the Etihad.
84 min: Samir Nasri attempts to dribble his way through the Arsenalc defence, dancing around Bacary Sagna and past Thomas Vermaelen before being dispossessed by a well timed last-ditch challenge from Per Mertesacker.
81 min: Tut-tut, Jack - that'll cost him a few bob and possibly a spell on the Naughty Step. Vincent Kompany gets booked for a foul on Thomas Vermaelen. Just before that, Fernandinho headed over the bar from a Manchester City corner from the left.
78 min: Like some sort of terminator, Yaya goes on another unopposed galloping run through the centre from inside his own half, covering about 40 yards before playing the ball right to Jesus Navas, who's been a right handful since coming on. He advances into the penalty area, then crosses to the far post, but there's nobody there to capitalise.
77 min: Zabaleta wins possession for Manchester City on the halfway line and plays the ball a few yards forward to the feet of Yaya Toure. He advances unchallenged, before shooting low and wide past the left upright from the edge of the penalty area.
76 min: Arsenal substitution: Olivier Giroud off, Nicklas Bendtner on.
75 min: Samir Nasri robs Nacho Monreal of the ball out by the touchline and bears down on the Arsenall goal, with Jesus Navas in support on his right. He threads the ball through, only for the Spaniard to fire into the side netting from a tight angle when it looked like Manchester City were going to further extend their lead.
70 min: Manchester City substitution: David Silva off, James Milner on. Arsenal substitution: Mathiu Flamini off, Serge Gnabry on.
68 min: Manchester City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon pulls off a wonderful save from a long range Jack Wilshere effort that appeared to be creeping in under the cross-bar. Diving high and to his left, the keeper did very well indeed to push the ball over the bar with one hand while at full stretch.
GOAL! Manchester City 4-2 Arsenal (Silva 66) Hells bells! Manchester City reassert their two-goal lead with another fine goal. Sprinting down the right wing, Jesus Navas stole half a yard on his marker and drilled a low, hard cross towards the near post, where David Silva was on hand to fire home from close range.
64 min: Arsenal eviscerated the City defence in the build-up to that goal with some wonderful tiki-taka passing play. Running between the lines, Ozil picked Aaron Ramsey, who slipped the ball through to Walcott. His finish was immaculate.
GOAL! Manchester City 3-2 Arsenal (Walcott 62) From just inside the penalty area, Theo Walcott curls the ball past Costel Pantilimon and into the top right-hand corner to put the tin hat on a wonderful Arsenal team goal. Game on ... again.
57 min: Jack Wilshere appeals for a penalty after attempting to pick out Theo Walcott with a pass through the Manchester City penalty area. Zabaleta cut out the pass by blocking the ball with a combination of thigh and outstretched arm - Arsenal should have got a spot-kick. Some of the officiating in this match has been fairly poor - the official running the line in Manchester City's half of the field flagged incorrectly for two offsides in the first half, apparently crumbling in the face of pressure from City fans he'd angered earlier in the half. Such was the frenzy of first half activity I didn't get around to mentioning them at the time.
55 min: Arsenal attack through the centre, with Aaron Ramsey pulling the strings. Mesut Ozil pings the ball out wide to Sagna, who curls in a wonderful cross. It's on a plate for Olivier Giroud, who somehow fails to hit the target with his free header from the edge of the six yard box. That's awful - he's got 10 goals this season, but hasn't scored in his last four matches.
52 min: Arsenal try to pull one back, with Jack Wilshere wafting a wonderful cross from deep towards the far post, where Olivier Giroud attempts to poke it home, under pressure from Pablo Zabaleta. He ends up poking it wide.
GOAL! Manchester City 3-1 Arsenal (Fernandino 50) Sloppy play from Mesut Ozil, who gifts possession to Manchester City in their own right-back position. The Brazilian advances into the penalty area completely unopposed, looks up, picks his spot and sends a wonderful curling effort just inside the right upright.
48 min: Manchester City substitution: Jesus Navas on, Sergio Aguero off. David Silva gets booked for a foul on Aaron Ramsey.
Second half: They're off again at the Etihad and not long after kick off, Sergio Aguero goes down with some mysterious ailment after laying the ball off to David Silva. He goes down holding his calf and it looks like he'll have to be hooked. In other great news for Arsenal, it seems that Laurent Koscielny is suffering from nothing more serious than " a laceration" on his knee. I thought he might have done his cruciate ligament.
Some half-time observations: Manchester City have an astonishingly high number of attacking options at their disposal; Nacho Monreal, Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud's contributions for Arsenal have been negligible; Theo Walcott's been very impressive and in a three-way contest between Pantilimon, Demichelis and Yaya Toure to see which Manchester City player was most culpable for Arsenal's goal, my Big Finger Of Blame is pointing at the goalkeeper, who was very, very slow to react to a fairly soft shot.
Half-time. And ... breathe. That was a lively first half and no mistake. A lot of matches like this tend not to live up to their billing, particularly when kick-off is so early, but this is shaping up to be a classic. City have been the better team and deserve their 2-1 lead, secured with wonderful goals from Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo either side of a Theo Walcott effort that went in off the head of Martin Demichelis. I will be astonished if there aren't more goals in the second half.
45+1 min: Wojciech Szczesny flaps at a high ball and succeeds only in weakly punching the ball towards Yaya Toure. Luckily for Arsenal's goalkeeper, the City midfielder was picking himself off the floor and not in a position to capitalise on the error by smashing the ball back with interest.
45 min: So anyway, as I was trying to tell you over 15 minutes ago, in the entry at 30 minutes - there's been some absolutely wonderful interplay between City's forward players in general, but Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo in particular. In that particular instance, I think it was Aguero who teed up Negredo with a wonderful scooped pull-back pass to the edge of the penalty area, only for the striker to volley over the bar.
44 min: Manchester City win a corner as the PA announcer tells everyone there'll be four minutes of added time. Samir Nasri sends in another outswinger from the right, which the unmarked Martin Demichelis attempts to flick towards the top left corner, only to see his effort go high and wide.
42 min: Arsenal substitution: Laurent Koscielny off, Thomas Vermaelen on. Koscielny goes off on a stretcher and his prognosis looks bleak. After sliding in to try and stop Negredo scoring Manchester City's second, he got to his feet as if to trudg disconsolently back into position, only to go to ground in agony after something appeared to buckle in his knee. I'm no doctor, but it looked like a potential season-ender to me. Here's hoping I'm wrong.
40 min: Anyway, City's second goal: In the centre of the park, Yaya Toure picked out Pablo Zabaleta who was galloping forward down the right flank. His first touch to control the ball was sublime and with his second, he steered the ball across the face of goal where it was deftly lifted over Szczesny by the onrushing Alvaro Negredo.
39 min: Laurent Koscielny is currently getting treatment on what looks like a very serious injury, but nobody seems sure what's happened to him. He's currently being loaded on to a stretcher - here's hoping he's OK.
GOAL! Manchester City 2-1 Arsenal (Negredo 38) I'm struggling to keep up here! Negredo pus City ahead with a wonderful finish.
36 min: |While I was describing the goal, Manchester City went close to re-taking the lead. David Silva played Negredo in with a splendid defence-splitting pass down the inside right, but the Spaniard's low diagonal shot towards the bottom left-hand corner rolled just the wrong side of the upright.
32 min: So, the goal. Normally so reliable, Yaya Toure was dispossessed in midfield and Arsenal went on the counter-attack against a horribly exposed Manchester City defence. With Arsenal players queuing up for a cross from the left from Mesut Ozil, the German picked out Theo Walcott on the edge of the penalty area and the Englishman's scuffed shot was diverted past Pantilimon courtesy of a desperate and diving defensive header from Demichelis. It should be noted, however, that Pantilimon looked decidedly flat-footed and the ball didn't take that much of a deflection.
GOAL! Manchester City 1-1 Arsenal (Walcott 31) Arsenal have equalised, courtesy of a deflected goal created by Theo Walcott that flew in off the head of Martin Demichelis.
30 min: Wonderful interplay between Aguero and Negredo, with the former setting up the latter ... oh, hold on!
29 min: Arsenal win a free-kick for a late Alvaro Negredo lunge on Nacho Monreal, wide on the left and level with the edge of the penalty area. Theo Walcott swings the ball across the face of goal, where Pantilimon's punch is a poor one. The ball drops for Mesut Ozil just inside the penalty area and appears to catch him by surprise. His first touch is woeful and a shooting chance goes a begging.
27 min: With Manchester City on the attack, David Silva attempts to bend one inside the far post. Koscielny blocks with his arm (it was ball to arm, rather than arm to ball, so no penalty) and the ball rebounds to Negrdo on the right hand side of the penalty area. He pulls the ball back towards Yaya Toure, standing on the edge of the penalty area, but the big man shoots high over the cross-bar.
22 min: Arsenal attack down the right, courtesy of Bacary Sagna and Mathiu Flamini. The ball's crossed in towards Jack Wilshere in the penalty area, but Vincent Kompany steps in to clean up and send his team away on the counter-attack. He hoofs the ball upfield, David Silva keeps it in play on the touchline, skips inside and sends a diagonal ball into the penalty area for Aguero to chase. Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny beats him to the ball, getting down to smother it before the Argentinian can striker. This is very entertaining fare - there's a nice ebb and flow to the game.
20 min: Vincent Kompany does brilliantly, twisting Aaron Ramsey's blood with a soft-shoe shuffle which leaves the Arsenal winger for dead, before threading the ball through the inside right channel for Alvaro Negredo to run on to. Negredo ghosts in, only to shoot wide from a narrow - but not ridiculously narrow - angle.
19 min: I've just seen a replay of the goal and two things strike me about it: Aguero's technique was quite superb and his marker Laurent Koscielny was really caught napping
18 min: Aaron Ramsey tries to pick out Olivier Giroud with a long pass over the top, but there's too much welly on it and the Frenchman is unable to control the ball before it goes out of play. Goal kick for City.
15 min: Moments after Arsenal restarted the game, Manchester City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon had a wobble, dropping a cross from the left, but managing to recover the ball before Theo Walcott could pounce.
GOAL! Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal (Aguero 13) Boom! That's a fantastic goal by Aguero. Manchester City won a corner, which Samir Nasri sent towards the near post. Martin Demichelis got a flick on across the face of the six-yard box and at the far post, Sergio Aguero smashed home a volley, managing to keep the ball down despite it being a mite behind him and at waist height. Great finish.
11 min: After total City dominance in the opening eight minutes, Arsenal have finally found a foothold in the game. They cause minor panic in the Manchester City penalty area, with Theo Walcott crossing from left to right to the far post. The ball drops kindly for the unmarked Wilshere, who smashes a first time effort across the face of goal.
9 min: Some respite for Arsenal: they win a free-kick a good distance out and, from that, a corner off Alvaro Negredo, who was back defending. The corner is poor - pinged towards the near post, enabling Manchester City to break on a counter-attack.
8 min: With Manchester City attacking down the inside right, David Silva slides a lovely pass through to Pablo Zabaleta, who was galloping up the touchline on the overlap. Zabaleta attempts to pick out Aguero with a low, hard cross into the penalty area. Arsenal hack clear and Mathiu Flamini earns them a much-needed breather by winning a free-kick.
7 min: City are completely dominant - Arsenal can barely get a touch and are unable to get the ball out of their own half.
4 min: Nothing comes of that corner, but City win another corner ... and then another. Samir Nasri takes both and his second outswinger towards Yaya Toure is a mite too high and the midfielder is unable to get a header on target.
3 min: City win a corner kick, with Yaya Toure appearing to put the ball out of play off Mathiu Flamini. A replay shows it should have been a goal-kick - the ball actually came off Flamini and ricoheted out of play off Toure.
2 min: City win a free-kick on the right-hand side, a good way out. The ball's floated to the far post, where Bacary Sagna clears.
1 min: Referee Martin Atkinson blows his whistle to signal the beginning of the match and Arsenal get the ball rolling. They're playing from right to left, with their players wearing their usual colours: red shirts with long white sleeves, white shorts and red socks. City wear their customary home colours of light blue shirts, white shorts and white socks.
The ESPN pundit says he expects "Man City to win and to win well". Beside him, David James predicts a 3-1 win for Manchester City. Me? I reckon it'll be a draw but have even had a little nibble on an Arsenal win at odds of 9-2. Not long to go now, anyway. The teams are out and almost ready for kick-off. Here's hoping for a cracking game.
"Say what you want about statistics, but I'm pretty sure it's true: Arsenal are undefeated whenever B. Glendenning does their MBM," writes Surendra Walter Singaram. "Keep it up mate!"
ESPN presenter Jake Humphrey: "It's beginning to rain, lightly."
ESPN pundit David James: "It's a bit chilly."
Football Weekly regular and the Guardian's German football correspondent Raphael Honigstein is interviewing Arsenal's German contingent in a pre-recorded segment. "Can Germany win the Premier League?" he asks, concluuding his interviewer. Yes, is the resounding reply.
So much for Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna being unlikely to play - they both start this afternoon, while there isn't any sign of Lukas Podolski on the Arsenal bench.
Man City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Kompany, Clichy, Nasri, Fernandinho, Toure, Silva, Aguero, Negredo.
Subs: Hart, Lescott, Milner, Dzeko, Kolarov, Javi Garcia, Jesus Navas.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal,
Ramsey, Flamini, Walcott, Ozil, Wilshere, Giroud.
Subs: Vermaelen, Rosicky, Arteta, Cazorla, Fabianski, Bendtner, Gnabry.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)
Arsenal are five points clear at the top of the Premier League table, but are six points ahead of their hosts, who have won seven matches out of seven at home thus far, conceding just two goals in the process. Arsenal's away form isn't too shabby either: they've lost once on the road this season in the Premier League, against Manchester United back in November.
For Manchester City, Yaya Toure will return to their starting line-up, having been suspended for their match against Bayern Munich, but Micah Richards will miss today's game after limping off against Bayern with a hamstring injury. Gael Clichy is also a doubt, while Joe Hart is expected to drop back to the bench.
Aaron Ramsey will almost certainly start for Arsenal this afternoon, having been restricted to a cameo from the bench against Napoli on Wednesday, while Lukas Podolski is expected to make the matchday squad, having been sidelined since August with hamstring issues. Bacary Sagna will miss out with a hamstring injury. We'll have the line-ups for you shortly, so don't go anywhere.
Considering Christmas is still around the corner, it's way too early to be talking about potential title-deciders, but in a knee-jerk world where impatient fans have been known to boo their team off the field for drawing pre-season friendlies or call for their manager's head on the back of an opening day Premier League defeat, it's probably fair to say that defeat for either team in this encounter this afternoon will have all sorts of people frothing at the mouth.
Arsenal come into this match in crisis, five points clear at the Premier League summit and safely through to the next round of the Champions League, but having drawn a match against Everton, before losing against Napoli in Europe during the week. The season of their opponents Manchester City has also gone into something of a tailspin. An administrative error meant they only beat European champions Bayern Munich by one goal rather than two in the Champions League, while on the homefront they could only muster a draw against Southampton in their last Premier League encounter.