Frenchman Samir Nasri stung champions Manchester United with two goals at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday as Arsenal secured a deserved 2-1 victory to reignite their Premier League title challenge.
Arsenal survived an early storm in a magnificent free-flowing game before the inspired Nasri struck in each half to lift the Gunners above United into third place.
Substitute Rafael's late volley for United could not prevent a second league defeat of the season. More worryingly, United have now taken just one point from their clashes with title rivals Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea this season.
United remain on 21 points and Arsenal have 23 from 12 games, six behind leaders Liverpool, who enjoyed a routine 3-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion courtesy of Robbie Keane's first league goals for the club and a late Alvaro Arbeloa strike.
Second-placed Chelsea travel to Blackburn Rovers on Sunday.
Liverpool made light work of beating West Brom, Keane latching onto a Steven Gerrard pass to chip past Scott Carson on 34 minutes and then doubling their lead before the interval as Keane rounded Carson to slot home.
With Liverpool cruising, Arbeloa added a third in stoppage time.
"I knew it would only be a matter of time (before scoring the first league goals), hopefully you will see Robbie Keane back to his best," Keane told Sky Sports.
"But it's not about Robbie Keane, it's about the performance, getting the three points and keeping top of the table."
Hull City's remarkable start to the season hit the buffers at home to Bolton Wanderers as they went down 1-0. The win lifted Bolton out of the bottom three and up to ninth place.
New Portsmouth manager Tony Adams got his first victory since taking over from Harry Redknapp, with Jermain Defoe scoring a late penalty for a 2-1 win at Sunderland.
Stoke City drew 0-0 with Wigan Athletic while West Ham United's poor form continued as they conceded three late goals in a 3-1 defeat by Everton at Upton Park.
Manchester United's players spent time at their training ground with Diego Maradona this week and could have done with the Argentine great's finishing ability early on against Arsenal.
Michael Carrick volleyed wide, Dimitar Berbatov had a goal ruled out after straying offside and Wayne Rooney blazed a gilt-edged chance over the crossbar in rainy London before Arsenal moved into gear.
Nasri, signed from Olympique Marseille in July, opened the scoring for Arsenal after 22 minutes with a deflected shot.
He struck again with a thumping right-foot shot just after halftime to give Arsenal a cushion although Rafael's stunning late volley ensured a tense finale.
"It was fantasy football," United manager Alex Ferguson told reporters. "It was like playground football at times...you attack, then we'll attack.
"Our determination and drive to try and rescue a point was fantastic. It was as good a game of football as you'll see this season."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was delighted with his injury-hit side's response to being written off as title contenders in some quarters after dropping points at home to Tottenham Hotspur and away to Stoke City.
"We had one accident against Stoke and there was hysteria," Wenger said. "I never doubted the spirit of my players. The difference today was that we took our chances and they didn't."