Manchester City 6, Arsenal 3
Fernandinho was the hero for Manchester City, as his two goals helped to close the gap on Premier League leaders Arsenal to three points in a pulsating 6-3 win at the Etihad Stadium.
Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo, David Silva and Yaya Toure from the penalty spot were also on target for the home side as they continued their run of excellent form.
Theo Walcott had twice equalised for Arsenal, while defender Per Mertesacker clawed back a late goal for the Gunners in injury time.
But City's hugely impressive win was marred when Aguero limped out of the game early in the second period with a possible calf problem.
And Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny was carried off after suffering a deep laceration to his knee before half-time.
City were on the front foot in the opening stages of the game, with Silva and Samir Nasri looking to open up the Arsenal defence.
But the Gunners began to get back into the game, and City striker Negredo showed solid defensive prowess as he positioned himself to head away the danger of a floated Mesut Ozil free-kick into the area.
The momentum was with Arsenal, and Jack Wilshere should have done better when Walcott found him unmarked inside the box, but the midfielder sent his effort straight back to the winger.
An important header from Koscielny was needed to clear for a corner in the 14th minute, but the subsequent set-piece saw City take the lead.
City defender Martin Demichelis won a header at the near post from the corner to flick the ball on, and Aguero lost Koscielny before volleying home the opener for the home side.
Vincent Kompany then produced a tremendous through ball to Negredo inside the area, but Koscielny just did enough to force the striker to shoot wide.
City were dominant by the midway point of the first period, and inventive football at the edge of the Arsenal box from Silva almost saw Toure add another.
But against the run of play, Arsenal equalised in the 31st minute following a mistake by Toure.
The Ivory Coast international dithered on the ball on the halfway line and was robbed by Aaron Ramsey, who moved forward with pace before finding Ozil on the left.
The German placed a perfect pass to Walcott on the edge of the box, and he passed the ball beyond a strangely static Costel Pantilimon in the City goal.
At the other end, Negredo wasted a good opportunity when he sent the ball wide under pressure from the Arsenal defence.
Six minutes before the interval, City were back in front when a Toure ball found Pablo Zabaleta chasing into the area.
The defender took one touch before sliding the ball into the six-yard box where Negredo was on hand to slot home.
But Arsenal were dealt a further blow as a result of the goal when Koscielny was carried from the field after appearing to injure his knee while challenging Negredo.
Gunners manager Arsene Wenger brought Thomas Vermaelen into action in place of Koscielny.
City suffered an injury blow of their own early in the second period when Aguero was forced out of the match with a possible calf problem, and he was replaced by Jesus Navas.
In the 50th minute, City extended their lead when Mathieu Flamini could not reach a misplaced Ozil pass and Fernandinho pounced before curling the ball around Wojciech Szczesny.
Arsenal responded well, though, and Olivier Giroud glanced just past the post from a Bacary Sagna cross into the six-yard area.
The Gunners were calling for a penalty in the 59th minute when Zabaleta appeared to handle a Wilshere ball into the area, but the referee ignored the appeals.
But then Walcott clawed Arsenal back into the game with his second goal of the day.
Ozil played a short pass to Ramsey on the edge of the area, and the Wales international clipped the ball to the winger inside the box.
Walcott finished the move with a tremendous right-footed strike beyond the despairing dive of Pantilimon and into the top corner of the net.
City, though, were in no mood to allow the Gunners back into the game, and Silva restored their two-goal lead in the 66th minute.
Nasri found Navas on the right-hand edge of the area, and the winger got some space behind Nacho Monreal before slipping the ball into the six-yard area where Silva was waiting.
Moments later, Pantilimon had made up for his earlier error when he tipped over a fierce Wilshere drive.
Fernandinho then forced Szczesny into a great save over the crossbar with a powerful strike from distance in the 85th minute.
Nasri squandered a late opportunity to add a fifth when he skied a James Milner ball high over the bar, but City had to wait just seconds for a fifth goal.
Nasri dispossessed Wilshere and moved forward to the edge of the Arsenal area, where he interchanged passes with Fernandinho before the Brazilian sent the ball over Szczesny.
Arsenal substitute Nicklas Bendtner looked to have pulled a goal back for the Gunners, but his effort was disallowed for offside.
Per Mertesacker did, however, claim a goal back in injury time with a diving header when he met Sagna's cross into the area.
Even then, the game was not finished, and City were awarded a penalty in the 96th minute after Milner was brought down by Szczesny. Toure calmly slotted home the spot-kick.
David Silva: A
- Constantly inventive and looking for a breakthrough for City in the first period as the home team dominated.
- Fully deserved his goal when he found space inside the six-yard area to meet Navas' low cross.
- Left the field to a standing ovation from the Etihad Stadium in the 72nd minute.
Sergio Aguero: A-
- Showed wonderful athleticism and striking awareness to open the goalscoring for City in the 14th minute with a tremendous volley at the back post.
- Scored his 19th goal of the season, but City supporters will be concerned at the injury which saw him limp off early in the second period.
Mesut Ozil: B
- A quiet first-half display as he was unable to get a handle on the game with City so dominant.
- After missing a decent half-chance, it was his ball across the edge of the area which set up Walcott for the 31st-minute equaliser.
- A frustrating day for Ozil, it was his misplaced pass which set up Fernandinho for City's third goal.
Aaron Ramsey: B-
- Unable to stamp a real mark on the game for Arsenal, but it was a difficult match for the visiting midfield with City so dominant.
- His clipped ball to Walcott for Arsenal's second was indicative of a player in confident mood.
Man of the Match: Fernandinho A+
- Brazilian midfielder fully deserved his two-goal haul for a tireless 90 minutes for City.
- Showed tremendous composure in front of goal and was always looking to provide the impetus for the victory.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini was not happy to concede three goals, despite his team's display, as Alex Richards of the Daily Mirror reported:
It's not easy to score six goals against Arsenal, the best defence in the Premier League, the best team this year.
We scored six goals and we missed four or five clear chances also to score more goals.
But to concede three goals is too much for this team to have control of the ball.
I didn't think that Arsenal had so many chances to score. In that sense I am always worried to try to improve.
On Aguero's injury:
We will see him with the doctor.
Maybe he has some problem with his calf but I don't know at the moment how many weeks.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger does not expect any lingering bad feeling between Mertesacker and Ozil after the German midfielder enraged his compatriot by not going to applaud Gunners fans at the end of the game, as the Daily Telegraph reported.
That is the Germans.
They will sort that out between themselves.
And Wenger will accept any punishment given to Wilshere after he allegedly made a gesture to the City supporters, according to the same report:
I didn't see that.
I don't know if he did it.
If he did it and is banned, we will have to accept it.
Pellegrini: "Aguero has a calf (injury). The doctor will see tomorrow how many weeks he will be out'' #mcfc— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) December 14, 2013
From Henry Winter of the Daily Telegraph.
To my friend Fernandinho, congratulations on a fantastic performance! 2 brilliant goals! Well done big man! pic.twitter.com/P5NTTmFz7I— Pablo Zabaleta (@pablo_zabaleta) December 14, 2013
Pablo Zabaleta congratulates Fernandinho.