City were forced to settle for a point as Arsenal came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw.
The Blues bossed the majority of the opening half and went in at the break ahead through a David Silva goal, but a Mathieu Flamini equaliser shortly after the break pumped new life into the Gunners in a pulsating second period.
Ultimately, City never quite reached the highs of midweek, but four points from trips to Manchester United and Arsenal must be considered an excellent haul.
At a ground where arguably City’s epic title run-in was conceived in 2011, the Blues arrived at the Emirates Stadium knowing that Chelsea had already suffered a shock defeat to Crystal Palace earlier in the day.
The Blues, who lost 1-0 to the Gunners almost exactly three years ago before winning the final six matches of the campaign and be crowned Premier League champions, knew a win in this fixture would give them a major advantage over Chelsea and effectively all-but end Arsenal’s slender hopes in one fell swoop.
The 6-3 win for City at the Etihad Stadium earlier in the season in the first meeting between these two teams was perhaps the game of the season so far, so an open, exciting encounter was on the cards with a draw not really in the minds of either side.
There were no surprises that Manuel Pellegrini opted to name an unchanged starting XI from that team that comprehensively won Tuesday’s Manchester derby – and City picked up where they’d left off at Old Trafford with an opening that had the hosts on the rack almost from the kick-off.
Jesus Navas curled a shot a foot wide after just three minutes and then Samir Nasri and Silva broke forward at pace but the final pass to Edin Dzeko was scrambled clear by an increasingly edgy home defence.
City’s rapier thrusts forward deserved reward, and on 17 minutes, it came in the form of a Silva goal. The brilliant Spaniard, at the heart of the Blues’ continued promptings, drove forward to the edge of the box, fed Dzeko whose shot hit the post but it was the little magician who was first to the rebound, getting just enough connection for the ball to trickle into the net.
The hosts offered little in return apart from one penalty appeal for what looked like a dive by Rosicky and an offside goal from Flamini, but there was always the threat that a goal could shift their play to a different level.
The Blues went into the break with their lead intact having been quicker, harder in the tackle and generally more incisive – but only half the job was complete and within eight minutes of the re-start the hosts were level.
City came agonisingly close to doubling the lead moments earlier when a Navas cross was almost turned into the net by Per Mertesacker after Szczesny missed the ball but the German’s clearance rolled inches wide. Then a rejuvenated Arsenal attacked at the other end and Podolski’s cross found the stretched leg of Flamini who diverted the ball past Joe Hart.
It was the first goal the Blues had conceded in more than five-and-a-half Premier League matches and it sparked feverish celebrations from the home fans – and two minutes later only a superb save from Hart prevented the hosts from taking the lead as the England keeper diverted a Podolski shot wide from close range.
City had to weather the storm and at least stay level so they could come again and gradually, the pendulum began to swing back in the visitors’ favour – though the game was always on a knife-edge.
The Blues’ patient build-up play was almost rewarded 15 minutes from time when Nasri worked the ball to Dzeko, then to Yaya Toure who rounded Szczesny but his cross was scrambled clear.
Though there were half-chances at either end in the time that remained, this was still a useful point for the Blues who came up against an Arsenal team determined to not suffer a third successive set-back inside a week.