Ryan Shawcross leaves the pitch in tears after his challenge on Ramsey
Arsenal came from behind to beat Stoke in a match marred by an horrific injury to Welsh teenager Aaron Ramsey.
The Gunners midfielder's ankle buckled under a challenge by Ryan Shawcross, who was sent off and departed in tears.
Stoke had taken the lead when Danny Pugh headed in from Rory Delap's long throw-in but Nicklas Bendtner levelled with a fine header back across goal.
Cesc Fabregas scored a penalty before Thomas Vermaelen tapped in, as Arsenal moved to only three points off Chelsea.
But the game will be remembered for the injury to Ramsey, which bore an eerie similarity to the broken leg suffered by Gunners striker Eduardo against Birmingham almost exactly two years ago, with television producers opting not to show replays of the incident.
Shawcross took a heavy touch and caught Ramsey just above the ankle as he stretched for the ball.
The Welshman collapsed on contact and he was left writhing on the floor, with his right foot appearing to hang at an unnatural angle.
Shawcross, who was later called up to the England squad, was shown a straight red card and while Ramsey received lengthy treatment, several Arsenal players looked visibly shaken.
Wenger fury over "horrendous tackle" on Ramsey
Fabregas and Vermaelen appeared the most affected by the incident so it was to their immense credit that they recovered to score the goals which fired Arsenal right back into the title race.
Stoke came into the game full of confidence having strung together an unbeaten run of 11 games, which included dumping Arsenal and Manchester City out of the FA Cup.
The Gunners, dogged by inconsistency of late, were given added motivation by Chelsea's shock 4-2 home defeat to Man City in the lunchtime kick-off.
Arsenal had won their previous two Premier League matches after damaging defeats to Manchester United and Chelsea.
With William Gallas still sidelined by a calf injury, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger called up Sol Campbell for his first Premier League start since rejoining the club.
Stoke were brimming with energy from the start and their opener came from a predictable source. Delap's long throw was headed down by an unmarked Shawcross and Pugh nodded in at the far post.
It was the fourth time Arsenal have fallen foul of Delap's missiles - he set up both goals in a 2-1 victory in November 2008 and teed up Ricardo Fuller for the first goal in Stoke's 3-1 FA Cup victory in January.
Arsenal looked inhibited by the physicality of Stoke and took a while to gain a foothold in the game.
In their first real spell of pressure, a Fabregas volley from outside the box was tipped around the post by Sorensen.
Moments later, the Spaniard's corner evaded the goalkeeper's outstretched arm and almost floated into the far top corner.
Shawcross devastated by injury to Ramsey - Pulis
Arsenal draw level just after the half hour mark when Fabregas was given the time to measure a pinpoint cross for Bendtner, who planted a fine header past Sorensen and just inside the post.
The Gunners made a strong start to the second half and were denied a penalty when Ramsey went down under a challenge from Stoke captain Abdoulaye Faye.
Shortly afterwards, fans saw two sides of Emmanuel Eboue as the Ivory Coast winger went down easily in the area, before almost putting Arsenal ahead with a 25-yard pile-driver which Sorensen tipped over the bar.
The home side spent much of the second period keeping Arsenal at bay as the Gunners pressed for a second goal.
Then came the moment which both managers agreed had tarnished the match, with the play having to be stopped for some seven minutes as Ramsey was treated before being stretchered from the field.
Arsenal took a while to regain their composure but should have taken the lead through substitute Eduardo, who dragged his shot wide from eight yards after being played in by Alex Song.
But in the final minute of normal time Bentdner flicked a pass into the area and the ball struck Pugh's hand.
Cesc Fabregas scored his 13th league goal of the season from the spot
Stoke protested that any contact was not deliberate but referee Peter Walton pointed to the spot and Fabregas rolled the ball into the corner.
Three minutes later, the three points were secured as Sorensen parried Tomas Rosicky's shot into the path of Fabregas, who squared for Vermaelen to tap into the empty net.
It was Arsenal's first league win at Stoke since 1982 and one that could have a major bearing on the destination of this season's title.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis: "It is a bad challenge but I know Shawcross, I signed him as a 19-year-old.
"He has got no bad blood in him whatsoever and there is no way in a million years he would ever go out to hurt anybody. I really mean that.
"Everyone else at this football club sends their condolences on the incident, we wish him well for a speedy recovery and as a fellow Welshman I am devastated.
"But Ryan has come off the pitch broken-hearted, met his mum straightaway and gone straight home.
"For me the game is insignificant, the incident has really spoiled it."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "I didn't see many bad tackles in the game but this one was horrendous.
"To lose a player of that quality at 19 years of age when he is just starting his career is just horrendous.
"I am just shocked because that is not football for me. It is not what I like in the game."
90:00+7:09 The referee blows his whistle to end the game.
90:00+6:34 Free kick awarded for a foul by Francesc Fabregas on Danny Pugh. Free kick taken by Thomas Sorensen.
90:00+6:19 Da Silva Eduardo takes a shot. Blocked by Danny Collins.
90:00+3:19 Assist by Francesc Fabregas.
90:00+3:19 GOAL - Thomas Vermaelen:Stoke 1 - 3 Arsenal Thomas Vermaelen fires in a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Stoke 1-3 Arsenal.
90:00+3:18 Tomas Rosicky takes a shot. Save made by Thomas Sorensen.
90:00+2:35 Nicklas Bendtner takes a shot. Blocked by Danny Collins. Corner taken short by Francesc Fabregas.
90:00+0:01 Nicklas Bendtner provided the assist for the goal.
90:00+0:01 GOAL - Francesc Fabregas:Stoke 1 - 2 Arsenal Francesc Fabregas scores a placed penalty. Stoke 1-2 Arsenal.
89:10 Danny Pugh is penalised for a handball.
88:42 Nicklas Bendtner takes a shot. Robert Huth gets a block in.
88:29 The ball is sent over by Francesc Fabregas.
86:37 Shot from inside the six-yard box by Da Silva Eduardo goes wide right of the target.
86:01 Tuncay Sanli challenges Tomas Rosicky unfairly and gives away a free kick. Tomas Rosicky takes the direct free kick.
84:19 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Tomas Rosicky by Liam Lawrence. Free kick crossed right-footed by Francesc Fabregas.
82:52 Thomas Sorensen takes the free kick.
82:52 Substitution Da Silva Eduardo on for Samir Nasri.
82:52 Tomas Rosicky challenges Liam Lawrence unfairly and gives away a free kick.
81:03 Tomas Rosicky produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide left of the goal.
79:33 Substitution Ricardo Fuller goes off and Tuncay Sanli comes on.
79:05 Unfair challenge on Thomas Vermaelen by Ricardo Fuller results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Samir Nasri.
78:35 Alex Song takes a shot. Rory Delap gets a block in.
76:38 Substitution Liam Lawrence on for Dean Whitehead.
76:32 Dean Whitehead delivers the ball.
73:42 Free kick taken by Thomas Sorensen.
73:42 Substitution Theo Walcott on for Emmanuel Eboue.
73:42 Samir Nasri takes a shot. Blocked by Dean Whitehead. Nicklas Bendtner is ruled offside.
70:38 The assistant referee signals for offside against Tomas Rosicky. Thomas Sorensen restarts play with the free kick.
65:36 Gael Clichy restarts play with the free kick.
65:36 Substitution (Arsenal) makes a substitution, with Tomas Rosicky coming on for Aaron Ramsey.
65:36 Sent off Ryan Shawcross is shown a red card for serious foul play.
65:18 Ryan Shawcross concedes a free kick for a foul on Aaron Ramsey.
64:22 Ricardo Fuller takes a shot. Comfortable save by Manuel Almunia.
63:27 Unfair challenge on Sol Campbell by Glenn Whelan results in a free kick. Francesc Fabregas produces a cross, Headed effort
on goal by Thomas Vermaelen from inside the penalty box misses to the right of the target.
62:14 Free kick awarded for a foul by Ricardo Fuller on Alex Song. Aaron Ramsey takes the direct free kick.
61:18 Danny Pugh crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing.
61:18 Booking Alex Song is cautioned.
61:14 Rory Delap fouled by Alex Song, the ref awards a free kick.
59:14 Substitution Danny Collins comes on in place of Abdoulaye Faye.
59:14 Francesc Fabregas produces a right-footed shot from just outside the area that goes harmlessly over the target.
58:32 Emmanuel Eboue takes a shot. Thomas Sorensen makes a save. Corner taken right-footed by Francesc Fabregas.
57:51 Foul by Mamady Sidibe on Manuel Almunia, free kick awarded. Manuel Almunia restarts play with the free kick.
56:21 Francesc Fabregas delivers the ball.
52:52 Corner taken by Francesc Fabregas from the right by-line, clearance by Rory Delap.
51:45 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Danny Pugh, save made by Manuel Almunia.
51:20 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Danny Pugh played to the near post, clearance by Nicklas Bendtner.
51:00 Danny Pugh takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Sol Campbell makes a clearance.
48:48 Gael Clichy takes a shot. Thomas Sorensen makes a comfortable save.
46:28 Emmanuel Eboue gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Glenn Whelan. Thomas Sorensen restarts play with the free
45:01 The game restarts for the second half.
45:00+2:07 The first half comes to an end.
41:24 Unfair challenge on Ryan Shawcross by Francesc Fabregas results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Glenn Whelan.
38:51 Free kick awarded for a foul by Dean Whitehead on Emmanuel Eboue. Francesc Fabregas shoots direct from the free kick, Mamady
Sidibe gets a block in.
33:54 Danny Pugh gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nicklas Bendtner. Francesc Fabregas takes the direct free kick.
31:30 Assist on the goal came from Francesc Fabregas.
31:30 GOAL - Nicklas Bendtner:Stoke 1 - 1 Arsenal Nicklas Bendtner scores a headed goal from deep inside the penalty area. Stoke 1-1 Arsenal.
31:26 The ball is delivered by Francesc Fabregas,
29:52 Gael Clichy produces a cross, clearance by Danny Pugh.
28:34 Shot from long distance by Andy Wilkinson misses to the right of the target.
Correction - 28:21 Robert Huth takes a shot. Thomas Vermaelen gets a block in.
28:21 Robert Huth takes a shot. Alex Song gets a block in.
27:53 Nicklas Bendtner challenges Glenn Whelan unfairly and gives away a free kick. Abdoulaye Faye takes the direct free kick.
26:53 Bacary Sagna fouled by Danny Pugh, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.
26:00 Inswinging corner taken by Francesc Fabregas.
25:37 Inswinging corner taken by Francesc Fabregas, Thomas Sorensen makes a save.
25:19 Francesc Fabregas takes a shot. Thomas Sorensen makes a save.
20:45 Thomas Vermaelen challenges Ricardo Fuller unfairly and gives away a free kick. Robert Huth takes the free kick.
15:55 Emmanuel Eboue is ruled offside. Thomas Sorensen takes the free kick.
15:40 The ball is sent over by Gael Clichy, Abdoulaye Faye manages to make a clearance.
13:57 Nicklas Bendtner produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the target.
13:15 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Sol Campbell by Ricardo Fuller. Manuel Almunia takes the direct free kick.
11:01 Corner taken by Francesc Fabregas played to the near post, clearance by Danny Pugh.
10:42 Free kick awarded for a foul by Dean Whitehead on Francesc Fabregas. Francesc Fabregas takes the free kick.
7:02 The assist for the goal came from Ryan Shawcross.
7:02 GOAL - Danny Pugh:Stoke 1 - 0 Arsenal Danny Pugh grabs a headed goal from close in. Stoke 1-0 Arsenal.
0:00 The referee starts the match.
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