Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany believes the Barclays Premier League title race is destined to "get messy" with Arsenal joining the champions and Chelsea in a three-way battle.
Ten-man City fought back from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Jose Mourinho's table-toppers on Sunday, leaving the Londoners three points clear at the summit.
Southampton and Aston Villa occupy are second and third in the table but are unlikely challengers in the long run, meaning the Gunners and City look likeliest to lead the chase.
The weekend showdown at the Etihad Stadium was billed as the battle of the big hitters but Kompany believes Arsenal, who are one point better off than City and four off top spot, are ready to make it a scrap at the summit.
"It is not fair to call it at the moment," said Kompany.
"First of all we are not even close to Chelsea yet (in the table). Secondly, I have seen good things from Chelsea but I have seen maybe better things from Arsenal so I guess it will all be about consistency and, with the Champions League, it will get messy around December.
"It is too early to call. Five points is nothing but (Chelsea) have five points more than us, it is as simple as that.
"But it will get messy in December and January as it always does - or at least the last six years I have been here it has."
Kompany was in commanding form on Sunday, shutting down Diego Costa in a manner no other defender has yet managed this season.
It seemed improbable that Mourinho's side would have scored had Pablo Zabaleta not been sent off in the 66th minute, with Kompany well partnered by debutant Eliaquim Mangala.
The £32million Frenchman has had a lengthy wait for his first taste of English football but was muscular and dependable in a tough opening assignment.
"He was tremendous. I don't think he's played for five months," said Kompany.
"I think it is up to him how good he could be but it looks like he is eager to progress, which is important at his age (23) as he is still young.
"Obviously you can see he has all the basics to be more than a good defender. He will need some time, like everyone else, and with time he will improve. Going by this performance you will be looking forward to what he can achieve."
As for his own display, where he at times dominated seven-goal Costa, the City skipper added: "I loved it. I live for those moments.
"People who know me know I want nothing else than to play against the big strikers week in, week out and I enjoyed every minute of it."
While Zabaleta's red card eventually led to Chelsea's opener through Andre Schurrle, there was a dramatic finish in store as Frank Lampard stepped off the bench to level against his employers of 13 years.
Having been cheered onto the pitch by the away fans, Lampard predictably declined to celebrate.
He is only in Manchester until the new year, when he starts life at New York City FC, but Kompany is pleased to have a player of his stature around until then.
"I have said it before, he was looking really good in training and it is one more player with a lot of experiences, he has won a lot of trophies in his career and in moments like this he keeps his head cool and just finishes it," he said.
"He could even have had a second but I guess that could have been a bit too much."