The last time Chelsea conceded five at home in the League their conquerors, Liverpool, went on to lift the title. That was in 1989 and while no one at Arsenal was predicting a repeat yesterday, their extraordinary 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge appears to confirm the Gunners are once more a force.
Chelsea twice led and when John Terry put them 2-1 ahead just before the break the match looked like being the backdrop to another incidence of the England captain's habit of meeting adversity head on.
When Terry was embroiled in the Wayne Bridge saga that cost him the national armband early in 2010, he responded by scoring the winning goal at Burnley, an important victory on the way to Chelsea's last title.
This time fate had scripted a different ending. With six minutes left and the match poised at 3-3, a back-pass from Florent Malouda wrong-footed Terry, who slipped. Robin van Persie sped on to the loose ball before completing a hat-trick in injury-time.
Equally significant was the referee Andre Marriner's decision not to dismiss Wojciech Szczesny for bringing down Ashley Cole at 2-2. Though the Arsenal goalkeeper later tweeted his disbelief at not being sent off, Chelsea's manager Andre Villas-Boas said only "it was the referee's decision".
Chelsea stay third but are now nine points behind Manchester City, who beat Wolves 3-1 despite the dismissal of Vincent Kompany.
Having dropped Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United kept a rare clean sheet, Javier Hernandez scoring the only goal at Everton.Reuse content