In a match with numerous goalscoring opportunities at both ends of the pitch, it was the Spain international who made the difference for Roberto Mancini's men
David Silva’s second half goal secured all three points in a brilliant match that swayed to and fro from the first minute.
City came into the game showing three changes from their first defeat of the season against Chelsea on Monday with Arsenal old boys Kolo Toure and Samir Nasri, as well as Pablo Zabaleta replacing Joleon Lescott, James Milner and Gael Clichy, while the Gunners were unchanged from their defeat of Everton last Saturday.
City’s bright start should have seen them take the lead in the ninth minute as Zabaleta was played clear on the left hand side from Gareth Barry before playing the ball across the front of both Arsenal centre-halves to Sergio Aguero, whose first touch was exemplary before firing over from 15 yards.
Against the run of play, Arsenal almost took the lead moments later. Gervinho managed to get in behind the home defence for the first time and his powerful shot was saved by Hart. From the resultant corner which Van Persie took short, Ramsey’s deflected effort from the edge of the area was saved once again by the England goalkeeper.
Wojciech Szczesny added to his burgeoning reputation midway through the half with a superb save from Mario Balotelli. Mertesacker was outmuscled by the Italian in the area and had the goal gaping from six yards, but the goalkeeper spread himself brilliantly to block the shot.
An open start to the second half saw both teams push forward for the opening goal, which duly came in the 53rd minute as Balotelli was given far too much space on the left hand side. He stole a yard on Alex Song before unleashing a powerful strike that could only be parried by Szczesny to Silva, who couldn’t miss from a yard out.
The response from Arsenal was superb as first Theo Walcott forced a fine save from Joe Hart and then Van Persie had a goal ruled out for a marginal offside call.
City remained dangerous on the break, however, and should have doubled their lead just after the hour mark. Nasri linked well with Silva before finding space behind the defence, and all he had to do was play across goal for Balotelli to stroke home, but his pass was woefully overhit and the ball went harmlessly out for a goal kick.
The away side felt they should have had a penalty in the 78th minute as Koscielny’s cross was flicked on to the right arm of Micah Richards. The full back knew little about it and had his hand was by his side, which would have helped influence the referee’s decision.
Andrey Arshavin had a chance late on to work Joe Hart at the back post but his shot was taken frightfully quickly and it went harmlessly into the side netting.