LONDON - Manchester City asserted their Premier League title credentials with an extraordinary 6-3 defeat of leaders Arsenal yesterday that took them to within three points of Arsene Wenger's side.
Sergio Aguero gave City a 14th-minute lead, with Alvaro Negredo restoring the hosts' advantage after Theo Walcott had marked his first start for Arsenal since September by equalising.
City lost Aguero to injury early in the second half, but a brace from Fernandinho, a David Silva strike and a Yaya Toure penalty secured victory for the 2012 champions, with Walcott and Per Mertesacker replying in vain.
"It's not easy to score six goals against Arsenal, the best defence in the Premier League, the best team this year," said City manager Manuel Pellegrini.
"We are three points behind. We must continue working and improving because we have a lot more things to improve."
Held 1-1 at Southampton last weekend, City made a determined start at the Etihad Stadium and took the lead in the 14th minute.
Samir Nasri's right-wing corner was headed on by Martin Demichelis and Aguero hooked home a waist-high volley at the back post to notch his 15th goal in 13 games.
Walcott levelled in the 31st minute, bobbling a shot home from a Mesut Ozil pass after Aaron Ramsey robbed Toure, but Negredo restored the hosts' advantage when he tucked in a low cross from Pablo Zabaleta.
To make matters worse for Arsenal, centre-back Laurent Koscielny had to be stretchered off after cutting his knee as he slid in alongside Negredo, with the club announcing via Twitter that he had suffered a "deep laceration".
City extended their lead in the 50th minute when Fernandinho picked up a loose pass from Ozil and curled a sublime finish around Wojciech Szczesny.
Walcott struck again in the 63rd minute, collecting a dinked pass from Ramsey and shaping a shot into the top-right corner, but Silva immediately converted a low cross from Jesus Navas to restore City's two-goal lead.
Fernandinho then scored his second goal before Mertesacker headed in an injury-time consolation for Arsenal, only for Toure to complete the scoring from the spot after Szczesny tripped James Milner.