Manchester City 4 Arsenal 2
Emmanuel Adebayor had the last laugh on Arsenal as he scored the decisive third goal in a pulsating encounter from which Manchester City emerged with their 100% record intact.
Two weeks after dominating at Old Trafford, yet finishing on the losing side against Manchester United, Arsene Wenger experienced similar emotions on the blue half of the city after a staggering contest where for long periods, they appeared the most likely winner.
Adebayor had other ideas, although the FA might want to look again at his ugly clash with Robin van Persie that left the Dutchman with a facial wound.
And they will also no doubt review the celebration that followed his goal.
When Shaun Wright-Phillips sent over a vicious cross, the £25million man had no intention other than to find the net, which he duly did, sending a capacity crowd into ecstasy.
It meant City have now won four games, the Togo striker scoring in the lot. None will mean as much as this, though, as the taunts of the fans who used to cheer him were rammed forcefully back down their throats.
The meeting between City’s new money and Arsenal’s grand past would have been intriguing enough even without the appearance of Adebayor and Kolo Toure against their former club.
Arsene Wenger pocketed £40million for the pair, which has generally been regarded as a good bit of business, especially as Adebayor was not the most popular figure among the Gunners faithful.
Pre-match boos from the visiting section continued after the game had started, although that reaction only seemed to fire up a player who showed more purpose and commitment than he provided in his final days at the Emirates.
Yet it was the visitors who started better and William Gallas should have put them ahead with a far post header. Instead, the Frenchman sent it fizzing over, providing City with an escape the fickle finger of fate ensured they took full advantage of.
True, without Gareth Barry’s curling free-kick after Craig Bellamy had been blocked off by Bacary Sagna, or Richards’ towering header, there would have been no goal.
Yet as Almunia pushed the header onto a post, then helplessly turned it home as the ball cannoned straight back towards him, the assist should go down in a column marked ’luck’.
So eager to impress, Adebayor was a notable presence without doing anything significant.
Had Bellamy not wasted a cross, he might have been presented with a tap-in.
Not that his old club did any better. For all their possession, they did not come close to matching Gallas’ earlier opportunity and, unlike a fortnight ago at Old Trafford, this time Wenger could not even claim his team had been roughed up.
Wenger has been criticised for his lack of summer signings. But after 20 months on the sidelines following major knee surgery, having Tomas Rosicky available must feel like a new arrival.
The momentum definitely changed following the Czech star’s introduction for Denilson, their passing becoming more threatening, their attacks presenting more obvious danger.
Gallas had already brought one excellent reaction save out of Given with a stooping near-post header when Rosicky collected Bacary Sagna’s short pass and fed the ball calmly through to Van Persie.
Joleon Lescott lunged in despairingly, but Van Persie simply skipped past the £22million man and drove a precise shot into the bottom corner.
Wenger probably could not believe how Arsenal failed to get their noses in front during the minutes that followed, as his team assumed total control.
Yet their concentration appeared to waver when Adebayor’s tackle on Van Persie left him needing treatment to a facial wound and Alexandre Song lashed out at his former team-mate shortly afterwards.
There could be no other explanation for the ease with which Richards cut inside Song after receiving Wright-Phillips’ pass and then finding Bellamy, who swept home to City’s glee.
That would have brought joy enough to Eastlands. But, having presented Wright-Phillips with a tap-in after beating three men near the by-line, only for the England star to miss, Adebayor decided it was time to do the job himself.
His reaction to the goal, racing the full length of the field to celebrate right in front of the Arsenal fans, rightly earned him a booking and may attract further punishment from the FA.
Not that Adebayor will be too bothered as City survived a breathless finale in which Wright-Phillips stretched their lead before Rosicky pulled one back and Vermaelen hit a post.