By Chris Harris
An early goal from Raheem Sterling condemned us to a narrow defeat against the Premier League leaders.
Sterling got between our centre backs to direct a second-minute header past Bernd Leno after Riyad Mahrez delivered a cross from the right.
We gave everything and, despite a tough start to the game, we competed well with Pep Guardiola's impressive side. But we found clear-cut chances hard to come by.
City's fluid, elusive movement has caused problems for every team they've faced in recent months. Indeed, they went into this game with 17 consecutive wins in all competitions.
And we certainly couldn't handle them in the early stages.
Mahrez found space and time on the right and used it wisely, cutting inside Kieran Tierney to clip in a cross that Sterling headed past Leno.
Sterling almost added a second moments later but Rob Holding nicked the ball off his toe. Then Mahrez beat Pablo Mari but his shot was deflected wide.
Four shots and 80 per cent of possession in the first 10 minutes told its own story, but we survived further damage and were far more competitive after that.
We looked dangerous whenever Bukayo Saka ran at City in central-left positions, and his link-up with Tierney was especially productive.
Tierney supplied regular crosses but City dealt with them all. One Tierney cut-back did allow Saka to get a shot in, but the ball hit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Saka was a threat after the break too, one slaloming run ending with a blocked shot. At the other end Leno was at full stretch to keep out Ilkay Gundogan's precise effort.
City were still seeing more of the ball but we reached the final 20 minutes still very much in the game - and almost levelled in bizarre circumstances.
Joao Cancelo's attempted clearance turned into a wild backpass and Ederson, not wanting to handle the ball, volleyed straight to Elneny. His first-time effort had power but flew wide.
Emile Smith Rowe and Alex Lacazette came on but City, after more patient approach play, had a glorious opportunity when Cancelo flicked a shot inches wide.
And despite our admirable work rate, we couldn't conjure up a golden chance of our own.
HOW IT HAPPENED
WHAT IT MEANS
This game was planted between the two legs of our Europa League tie against Benfica, so Mikel Arteta decided to shuffle his pack.
Tierney was the most notable inclusion after an injury lay-off, and four others returned to the starting line-up - Nicolas Pepe, Mohamed Elneny, Holding and Mari.
David Luiz, Gabriel, Smith Rowe, Cedric and Dani Ceballos made way.
Thomas Partey (hamstring) and Alex Runarsson (knee) were ruled out through injury.
Our Europa League hopes are on the line this Thursday when we face Benfica in the second leg of our last-32 tie.
The first leg in Rome ended 1-1; our 'home' leg will take place in Athens because of travel restrictions to the UK.
Our next Premier League game is a noon kick-off (UK time) at Leicester next Sunday.
Copyright 2021 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.