Manchester City produced a thrilling second-half comeback to beat Arsenal 2-1 on Sunday and move above Arsene Wenger’s side into second place in the Premier League, seven points behind leaders Chelsea.
Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton also fought back from a goal down, to beat Burnley 2-1 and Bournemouth 3-1 respectively, to reinforce the league’s reputation for thrills and spills.
Chelsea are top with 43 points, followed by City on 36 and then Liverpool, who visit Everton in their game in hand on Monday, and Arsenal with 34, Spurs on 33 and Manchester United with 30 after their 2-0 win at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Arsenal have suddenly had more than enough disappointment, after also blowing a lead to lose 2-1 at Everton last Tuesday, and Wenger said they had suffered a “horrible week”.
It appeared the opposite at halftime with Arsenal appearing bound for victory on the back of Theo Walcott’s fifth-minute opener as the forward rounded off a stunning three-man move.
The Gunners could have increased their lead before being stunned by a City side, so hesitant in the first half, who took control after the interval with goals from Leroy Sane, his first since joining in the close season, and Raheem Sterling.
Wenger thought both goals were offside, though the decisions were marginal and Arsenal’s manager acknowledged his side came off second best after the break in the physical contest.
“Today we conceded two offside goals,” said Wenger “It’s difficult to accept. I believe there’s a lot going on [regarding ‘bad’ refereeing decisions]. It’s hard going into a game like that and you get decisions go against you.
“They [referees] are professional and we are professional and have to stand up for our mistakes. We were a bit jaded physically. We played four games from five away from home,” he added.
Walcott, by contrast, said Arsenal had been beaten “by a better side”.
It was City’s first win from a losing halftime position at the Etihad since 2012, although manager Pep Guardiola refused to take the credit, saying “I didn’t say anything to them at halftime”.
Comebacks proved the order of the day and Spurs now lie just one point behind Arsenal in fifth place after full back Danny Rose latched on to Moussa Sissoko’s through ball to seal victory against Burnley with 20 minutes to go at White Hart Lane.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche was doubly displeased to even see substitute Sissoko still on the pitch after the midfielder’s earlier challenge on Stephen Ward.
“It was a blind challenge, a high challenge and simply a red card,” he said.
Ashley Barnes had put the visitors ahead in the 21st minute but the lead lasted only six minutes, Dele Alli equalising from a cross by Kyle Walker.
On the south coast, Southampton found the answer to their recent lack of goals in Jay Rodriguez, who scored twice in the victory over neighbours Bournemouth, their first away league win since September.
The success, despite the absence of top scorer Charlie Austin, was all the more impressive because Southampton left unsettled defender Jose Fonte on the bench and fought back after Nathan Ake’s header put Bournemouth ahead in the sixth minute.
Ryan Bertrand equalised before Rodriguez weighed in with his first goals for four months, the second a 20-yard screamer that settled matters in what was only the 19th league meeting between the clubs, situated some 50 km apart on the south coast.
The 27-year-old Rodriguez rejected a loan move when Claude Puel took over as manager in the close season but seems to have finally overcome the knee and foot injuries that have blighted his past two seasons.
“A lot has changed at the club since my injury but that is in the past,” Rodriguez told the BBC. “Things are there to test you and if you overcome them you come back stronger.
“The second goal was instinctive. The main thing today was the three points, we showed grit against a good Bournemouth side.
Saints have risen to seventh on 24 points, their highest position this season, three points above Bournemouth.