Jose Mourinho, who now boasts an 11-game unbeaten record against his bitter rival, saw his leaders roar into a 2-0 lead after just seven minutes courtesy of goals from Samuel Eto’o and the outstanding Andre Schurrle.
That was dramatic enough, but the main talking point arrived soon after as Chelsea were awarded a penalty when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain dived to push an Eden Hazard shot, which looked to be heading wide anyway, past the post.
Referee Andre Marriner took his time before awarding a spot-kick and then brandished an inevitable red card, only to show it in the face of a bemused Kieran Gibbs, who protested his innocence, while replays appeared to show Oxlade-Chamberlain approach the official to say: “Ref, it was me.”
Marriner would not be swayed, leaving Gibbs with no option but to trudge disconsolately down the tunnel, while Hazard kept his nerve to convert down the middle of the goal after waiting for Wojciech Szczesny to commit himself.
The Gunners chose another meeting with a title rival to produce one of their most meek displays, with the astonishing capitulation amidst a raft of basic passing errors reminiscent of their recent drubbing by Liverpool at Anfield.
Arsenal were never in the game, such was their profligacy in possession, and once the unfortunate Gibbs had been given his marching orders they were simply in damage limitation mode, only for Oscar (two) and Mohamed Salah to add further gloss to the scoreline before the final whistle sounded.
A warning of what was to come arrived with only three minutes gone when Laurent Koscielny’s poor pass only found Schurrle, whose through-ball towards Eto’o was cut out by Szczesny.
Play switched to the other end and Petr Cech produced an excellent low save to deny Olivier Giroud following Tomas Rosicky’s pass, although the French striker failed to make a clean contact.
Schurrle and Eto’o then combined to devastating effect in the fifth minute, with the German feeding his forward colleague after Arsenal ceded possession in the centre and the Cameroon forward turned Oxlade-Chamberlain before curling a left foot shot beyond Szczesny’s despairing dive.
Arsenal did not learn. They gave the ball away once again in the middle and then allowed Schurrle to advance unchecked to the edge of the box before he drilled a low shot into a static Szczesny’s bottom corner.
Chelsea were forced into an early change as Eto’o went down with what appeared to be a hamstring injury and Fernando Torres was sent on in his place.
Marriner’s moment of mistaken identity and Hazard’s cool head from 12 yards came soon after, with Wenger withdrawing Lukas Podolski and sending on Thomas Vermaelen to shore up his shambolic and shell-shocked side.
The frenetic pace dropped somewhat, although Szczesny had to be alert to turn a deflected David Luiz drive round the post, and there was still time for Oscar to make it 4-0 before the interval, clipping home Torres’ low cross from close range.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was put out of his misery at the interval, with Wenger also withdrawing Koscielny and sending on Mathieu Flamini and Carl Jenkinson.
Santi Cazorla fired a shot across the face of goal on the hour mark, before Torres set up Oscar for a side-footed effort which Szczesny had to leap to tip over his bar.
But the Arsenal goalkeeper was culpable in the 66th minute as he allowed a routine Oscar effort from outside the box to skip up off the turf in front of him to make it 5-0, with the Brazilian immediately replaced by Salah.
And the January signing got in on the act in the 71st minute, getting in behind the Arsenal defence to convert Nemanja Matic’s ball over the top with a cool finish under an exposed Szczesny.