First-half substitute leaves it late to book a place in the last four as Roberto Mancini's men edge a close match to march on in the domestic competition on Tuesday
Sergio Aguero did the damage after arriving in the match as a substitute, slotting home in the second half to see Roberto Mancini's men through to the last four.
In a frenetic game, both sides had chances to open the scoring within the first 10 minutes. First it was the visitors who went close, midfielder Adam Johnson cut in from the right-hand side before unleashing a dipping strike. A foot lower and goalkeeper Lukas Fabianski would have been left stranded.
The hosts, in response, went even closer. Park Chu-Young’s shot from close range produced a glorious save from Costel Pantilimon.
England under-21 star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain caused mischief throughout the match and had the City players backpedalling for the duration of the contest.
The first was Nigel De Jong, who didn’t know which way the teenager was going to go. The Dutchman stood off him, allowing the youngster to have a pop from 25 yards, which again produced a stunning save from Pantilimon.
Samir Nasri struggled on his return to the Emirates, as the Gunners faithful made sure they booed the Frenchman every time he had a touch of the ball.
City made a substitution in the first half, bringing on striker Sergio Aguero for full-back Alexandar Kolarov - who didn’t seem happy at being replaced half an hour into his night.
The second half opened with the same pace as the first, striker Edin Dzeko making goalkeeper Fabianski scramble across his line with a curled effort that didn’t have quite enough finesse.
Oxlade-Chamberlain produced another fine drive from range, and this time it was Zabaleta's turn to stand off him. He cut in from the right-hand side before stinging Pantilimon’s hands as he punched clear with both fists.
Former England midfielder Owen Hargreaves tried to score from outside the box, but he shot high into the crowd behind the goal before Chamakh had an attempt at the other end that went as wide as Hargreaves’ went high.
Oxlade-Chamberlain then tried for a third time to beat Pantilimon, but again shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Aguero finally opened the scoring with seven minutes remaining, with the move taken directly out of the Arsenal textbook.
The hosts were dispossessed from a corner and the ball was taken out wide by Edin Dzeko. He ran down the touchline and into the middle of the park before cutting the defence open with a through ball to Adam Johnson. His pivot then set up Aguero who slotted past Fabianski to take the visitors into the semi-finals.
Arsenal were unable to respond to the setback, and City march on to the last four, joining Liverpool and Cardiff in the draw.