City ground out an impressive draw against a rampant Arsenal side to maintain second place in the Premier League after a fascinating tactical battle ended 0-0 at the Emirates.
Despite the hosts hitting the woodwork twice in the first half, the Blues snuffed out the best the Gunners could muster to earn a valuable point and keep the North London side in third.
Pablo Zabaleta was sent off with Bacary Sagna in the dying embers of the game, but City will surely contest the decision to send off the Argentine who appeared to be the victim rather than the instigator in a heated head-to-head with the Arsenal full-back.
It’s a fair bet no more than a handful of the 3,000 travelling fans were in attendance the last time the Blues triumphed away to the Gunners back in October 1975.
Goals from Asa Hartford, Rodney Marsh and Joe Royle were enough to give Tony Book’s side victory that day, but few would have envisaged the best part of four decades would pass without City recording a single win either at Highbury or the Emirates Stadium thereafter!
In fact, the Blues had not even come close to ending that miserable record, losing 21 of their 28 visit, but they arrived – probably for the first time since the Premier League was formed – above their North London nemesis on this occasion
...Arsenal 0 City 0.
With Manchester United edging three points clear with a win over Stoke, Roberto Mancini was hoping to extend his unbeaten run in London as City boss to eight, having never lost in the capital.
With no David Silva or Mario Balotelli to call on, Mancini made five changes from the team that beat Blackpool 1-0 at the weekend with Kolo Toure, James Milner, Micah Richards, Pablo Zabaleta and Jo all recalled to the starting line-up.
That meant the subs bench for Adam Johnson, Joleon Lescott and Jerome Boateng while Aleksandar Kolarov and Silva were unavailable.
The Gunners stuck with the same eleven who convincingly beat Birmingham City 3-0 at St Andrews at the weekend to become the best away team in the top flight this season, but the Blues knew a draw or better would put them back on equal footing on that particular score.
The way the hosts started the game, however, suggested they may retain their status with the City taking something of a battering in the opening moments.
With barely two minutes on the clock, Samir Nasri played the ball to Jack Wilshere who slid the ball across the City goal to where Robin Van Persie somehow failed to slide the ball into the empty net. It was an amazing let off for the Blues, but the Gunners were far from finished.
Van Persie’s neat footwork bought him a few yards of space and the Dutchman rattled the post with a low drive from the edge of the box and then Hart saved smartly from Wilshere a minute later as City continued to somehow weather a ferocious storm.
The Blues gradually worked their way back into the game but were again fortunate to stay on level terms when Cesc Fabregas struck a low drive against the foot of the post on 29 minutes.
The second half was much more even, with Arsenal running out of steam and ideas and the City defence and midfield were resolute from start to finish with every player putting in a shift.
Though City never tested Fabianski in the entire 90 minutes, with Chelsea and Spurs also dropping points, it was something of a moral victory for the battling Blues.