City lost vital ground in the title race after losing 2-0 to Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium.
The Blues were far from their best on a frustrating afternoon that saw the Gunners score a goal in each half – the first a controversial penalty that undoubtedly influenced the final outcome.
Though there are plenty of games still to play, whichever way you look at it, this wasn’t a good weekend for the defending champions.
Chelsea’s stroll over Swansea 24 hours earlier had made this a must-win fixture for City – but then, aren’t they all at this stage of the season?
With Stamford Bridge the next destination for Manuel Pellegrini’s men, it was vital the Blues travelled to West London within touching distance of Jose Mourinho’s side, but the Gunners were also well aware that a win at the Etihad could springboard their own inconsistent campaign into life.
With the last three Premier League meetings yielding 15 goals, another attacking feast seemed likely between two of the country’s most attack-minded sides.
The Blues started brightly without creating any decent chances but it was the visitors who opened the scoring midway through the first-half when Kompany was adjudged by referee Mike Dean to have brought down Aaron Ramsey in the box.
Replays suggested the Welshman had gone over a tad easily and it was a major call by the official – but one Santi Cazorla didn’t pass up as he tucked the penalty past Joe Hart to give the Gunners the lead – one they comfortably protected until the break.
Though nobody would question City’s comeback abilities, the fact that no chances of note had been created with half of the game gone was worrying to say the least.
It was a concern Pellegrini looked to address as he replaced James Milner with Stevan Jovetic at the start of the second period and immediately there was a more potent look about City’s approach play.
Aguero saw one shot pushed around the post by David Ospina and David Silva almost weaved his way through as the champions finally began to ask questions of the Gunners’ defence.
As City built up a head of steam, Jesus Navas sent in a low cross that Aguero and Jovetic were both inches away from sliding home, but the equaliser still wouldn’t come.
Then, with 68 minutes gone, the killer blow was seemingly delivered as Cazorla’s free-kick was glanced home unchallenged by Olivier Giroud – it was hard to see a way back for City whose unbeaten run of 14 games was coming to an end in disappointing fashion.
In the minutes that remained, the Blues huffed and puffed but never looked like breaching the Gunners’ resolute defence on what proved to be a profitable day for both North and West London.