Premier League - Manchester City humble Arsenal in nine-goal thriller

Premier League, Etihad Stadium – Manchester City 6 (Aguero 13, Negredo 38, Fernandinho 51 & 87, Silva 65, Toure pen. 90+6) Arsenal 3 (Walcott 31, 62, Mertesacker 90+4).

Manchester City put a huge dent in Arsenal’s title ambitions while boosting their own with a remarkable 6-3 win at Eastlands.

A frantic, end-to-end match was settled by goals from Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo, Fernandinho (2), David Silva and Yaya Toure, with Theo Walcott scoring twice on his return to the starting XI and Per Mertesacker also on target for Arsenal.

The hugely entertaining affair was marked by some brilliant attacking play by both sides, and lots of slack play at the back, particularly from Arsenal.

Four of City’s goals came directly from poor defending: Aguero’s fine volley was helped by poor marking from Laurent Koscielny, both of Fernandinho’s lovely finishes were the result of Arsenal midfielders giving the ball away, and Toure’s late penalty came when Arsenal simply gave up on closing down their opponents.

Walcott’s opener was also the result of a series of City errors, although his second was a delightful curler.

The result cuts Arsenal’s lead atop the league to three points, although that could be reduced to two by the end of the weekend. City move second for now, although Liverpool and Chelsea will go a point ahead of them if they win their matches.

[INJURED KOSCIELNY FACES LAYOFF]

KEY MOMENTS

Pre-match: Hartbreak for Joe, Theo returns. It was a tale of two England stars as Joe Hart returned to the bench after helping City beat Bayern Munich in midweek, while Arsenal’s Walcott made his first start in three months after an injury.

13’ – GOAL (City 1-0 Arsenal): Fantastic volley by Aguero after Martin Demichelis flicked on a corner at the near post. Poor defending by Koscielny.

31’ – GOAL (City 1-1 Arsenal): Walcott scuffs the ball past a static Costel Pantilimon as Demichelis fails to intercept the weak shot. Mesut Ozil gets the assist, while Toure doesn’t cover himself in glory after giving the ball away.

38’ – GOAL (City 2-1 Arsenal): Negredo had missed a few chances earlier but makes no mistake with a close-range finish after a fine low cross by Pablo Zabaleta, who is sent away by Toure’s superb pass.

51’ – GOAL (City 3-1 Arsenal): Lovely curler from Fernandinho on the edge of the box, his first goal for Arsenal, but the chance came after Mathieu Flamini slipped while trying to control a bad pass by Ozil.

62’ – GOAL (City 3-2 Arsenal): Beautiful strike by Walcott, who curls the ball into the top right from just inside the box.

65’ – GOAL (City 4-2 Arsenal): Whenever Arsenal score, City respond, this time through Silva, who side-foots it into the roof of the net from an excellent Jesus Navas cross.

68' - WILSHERE IN TROUBLE? Jack Wilshere appears to direct a one-finger salute at the home fans. He could be in for a ban - Luis Suarez was suspended for one match for a similar gesture against Fulham.

87’ – GOAL (City 5-2 Arsenal): Another great finish by Fernandinho, this time clipping it deftly home, but Jack Wilshere gave it away to set the ball rolling.

88’ – DISALLOWED GOAL: Sub Nicklas Bendtner powers a fine header past Pantilimon, but he is fractionally offside.

90+4’ – GOAL (City 5-3 Arsenal): More fun and frolics as Mertesacker dives in to head Bacary Sagna’s cross home.

90+6’ – GOAL (City 6-3 Arsenal): Toure rolls home a penalty after Szczesny fouled James Milner. Arsenal end in disarray with Mertesacker berating his compatriot Ozil for failing to applaud the visiting fans.

[WILSHERE 'GIVES CITY FANS FINGER, MERTESACKER BERATES OZIL]

TALKING POINT

Have the rails come off for Arsenal? After impressing so much this season, their last two team performances have been terrible. Sloppy errors in midfield, weak defending and some apparent disagreements on the pitch could derail their season unless Wenger nips this in the bud.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

KEY STATS

Aguero has now scored 13 Premier League goals in 15 matches and 19 in all competitions, more than he managed in the whole of last season.

City have scored 73 goals in all competitions this season, and it’s not even halfway yet.

Arsenal have scored more goals than any other team away at Manchester City in the Premier League era (31).

MAN OF THE MATCH

Fernandinho (City) – Two lovely finishes capped off a busy performance in midfield as the Brazilian got off the mark for his new club.

PLAYER RATINGS

Manchester City: Pantilimon 5, Zabaleta 8, Kompany 8, Demichelis 6, Clichy 6, Fernandinho 8, Yaya Toure 7, Nasri 7, Silva 7, Aguero 7, Negredo 7; Subs: Navas 7, Milner 7, Garcia NA

Arsenal: Szczesny 6, Sagna 6, Mertesacker 6, Koscielny 5, Monreal 5, Flamini 5, Wilshere 5, Ramsey 6, Ozil 5, Walcott 8, Giroud 5; Subs: Vermaelen 5, Gnabry 6, Bendtner 6