Robin van Persie scored a hat-trick as Arsenal twice came from behind to overcome Chelsea 5-3 in an incredible match at Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal come from behind to prevail 5-3 at Stamford Bridge
Robin van Persie scored a hat-trick as Arsenal twice came from behind to overcome Chelsea 5-3 in an incredible Premier League match at Stamford Bridge.
Both sides were carved open with alarming regularity in a display of defending that will have infuriated their managers, but the almost reckless commitment to attacking football made for an extraordinary spectacle.
The Blues drew first blood when Frank Lampard nodded in Juan Mata's right-wing cross, before Van Persie tapped in an equaliser following great work by Aaron Ramsey and Gervinho.
John Terry restored Chelsea's lead as Arsenal failed abjectly to deal with a corner on the stroke of half-time, but the game was turned on its head after the break as goals from Andre Santos and Theo Walcott put the visitors in front for the first time.
Mata's stunning strike made it 3-3 with ten minutes remaining but Van Persie capitalised on a Terry slip to round Petr Cech and give the Gunners the lead once more.
The Dutchman completed his treble following a fast counter-attack in stoppage time to seal a remarkable derby victory.
Feast of football
Terry was under the spotlight at the start of the match after a week in which he has had to deny allegations that he racially abused Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.
An investigation is under way and fan reaction was predictable in the first few minutes, but both sets of supporters were soon transfixed by a feast of attacking football.
After Ashley Cole twice got in behind the visitors' defence, Chelsea really should have scored when three of their players beat the Gunners' offside trap but Daniel Sturridge somehow sent his cross straight at Wojciech Szczesny.
The home side also looked vulnerable and Gervinho somehow scuffed a tap-in wide after Walcott surged past Cole. The Arsenal winger also picked out captain Van Persie, who volleyed over.
It was the Arsenal defence which buckled first after 14 minutes, the outstanding Mata teasing Van Persie and swinging in a right-wing cross which the unmarked Lampard stooped to head home.
Van Persie was robbed after again getting in behind before the goalmouth action finally relented until the 29th minute, when Lampard's flighted ball put Sturridge clean through but the forward got his left-footed finish all wrong.
And Arsenal made him pay seven minutes later when they equalised with the kind of goal they are all too often accused of trying to score.
Ramsey picked out Gervinho's brilliant run and the Ivory Coast striker drew Cech and squared for Van Persie to slot into an empty net.
Sturridge thought he had put Chelsea back in front four minutes before the break but he was rightly ruled offside poking home Ramires' cross.
But they were gifted the lead on the stroke of half-time through Terry, of all people, who got in front of Per Mertesacker to cushion Lampard's corner in off the post right in front of the Arsenal fans.
Incredibly, the tables turned within 10 minutes of the restart as Arsenal scored twice to take the lead and Szczesny avoided what looked a certain red card.
Van Persie and Ramsey both missed chances to level inside a minute but Santos did manage to score three minutes later when his superb first touch onto Gervinho's ball gave him time to send a strike through Cech's legs and into the net.
Chelsea immediately went on the attack and Szczesny received a yellow card after he came rushing out of goal and tripped Cole on the edge of the box.
Szczesny rubbed salt into the wound by tipping Lampard's resulting free-kick wide before Arsenal scored again, Walcott bundling his way through the home defence and lashing the ball past Cech at the near post.
Both sides made a raft of changes as the end-to-end action continued, with Ramsey missing another good chance for the visitors who were looking the more dangerous.
Terry was forced to act as peacemaker after a clash between Van Persie and Branislav Ivanovic, both of whom were booked.
And there was a grandstand finish thanks to a wonderful strike from Mata, who let fly from 25 yards to beat the despairing Szczesny.
But like the first half, the second ended up being decided by Terry, who slipped chasing substitute Florent Malouda's backpass, leaving Van Persie to race clear, round Cech and make it 4-3.
Mata twice saw efforts blocked as Chelsea tried to level before Van Persie hit them on the break again by blasting left-footed past Cech.
||1st Half Goals
||Shots on Target
||Shots off Target