Laurent Koscielny's early red card proved crucial as James Milner and Edin Dzeko fired Manchester City to a 2-0 win at Arsenal.
The centre-back saw red in the 10th minute for wrestling Dzeko to the ground before the striker could test Wojciech Szczesny.
Despite missing the spot-kick, Dzeko tapped home his side's second from close range after Milner opened the scoring.
And though captain Vincent Kompany was also given a straight red with 15 minutes left for a dangerous lunge on Jack Wilshere, Roberto Mancini's men secured the three points required to stay seven behind Manchester United following their 2-1 win over Liverpool.
The Gunners made a promising enough start to the contest, but the early endeavour of the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby would come to an abrupt halt after just 10 minutes.
The visitors did well to keep the pressure on from a corner, and after Carlos Tevez forced a great reflex save from Szczesny, referee Mike Dean suddenly stopped play and awarded a penalty.
The spot kick was given because Koscielny had dragged Dezko down to the pitch before he could beat Tevez to the ball, and earned the centre-back a straight red for denying a goal-scoring opportunity.
Dzeko, however, sent the penalty into the legs of the Arsenal goalkeeper, with the ball rebounding off the post and back into Szczesny’s grateful clutches.
With a numerical disadvantage, the hosts could only hang on for 11 minutes as they protested a free-kick decision for too long, allowing the quickly-taken set piece to be set up for Milner to hammer home.
Tevez had a pair of opportunities to double the advantage, but it would be Dzeko who did just that on 32 minutes after great work by Pablo Zabaleta led to Milner’s low cross being spilled by Szczesny and tapped in from a yard by the striker.
Arsene Wenger’s side went all for broke in an attempt to spark a miracle comeback, but with City happy to sit back and let the hosts tire chances came few and far between.
Tevez almost found his way through on the counter with 20 to go, but the Argentine dawdled for too long and allowed the chance to kill the game off go to waste.
Five minutes later and Kompany’s two-footed slide in on Wilshere had Dean immediately reaching for his red card a second time, giving the hosts a chance to mount a late rally with the sides even.
But despite stepping up their dominance of second-half possession, the closest they came to getting on the scoresheet was a glorious opening for Walcott in the 90th minute, only for substitute Joleon Lescott to block his goal-bound effort on the line.
Both dismissals will be argued by both sides but initially both appeared to be the right call with both last-man fouls and two-footed lunges clearly outlawed by the letter of the law.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Edin Dzeko - Manchester City: Even a penalty miss could not take the gloss off an excellent performance up top which saw him eventually get on the scoresheet and provide plenty of clever play on the counter.
Arsenal: Szczesny 7; Sagna 7, Vermaelen 5, Koscielny 3, Gibbs 6; Diaby 6, Wilshere 7, Cazorla 6; Oxlade-Chamberlain 5 Podolski 6, Walcott 7. Subs: Mertesacker 6, Ramsey 6, Giroud 6.
Manchester City: Hart 7; Zabaleta 8, Kompany 5, Nastasic 7, Clichy 7; Garcia 7, Barry 7, Milner 8; Tevez 6, Silva 7, Dzeko 8. Subs: Lescott 7, Kolarov n/a, Balotelli n/a.
- Sports & Recreation
- James Milner
- Edin Dzeko
- Manchester City
- Carlos Tevez
- Wojciech Szczesny
- Laurent Koscielny
- Vincent Kompany
- Jack Wilshere