Declan Rice had to clear a Josko Gvardiol effort off the line as City piled the early pressure and took advantage of Arsenal’s initial shakiness.
The ball came back in, and Nathan Ake missed a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring as he blazed over from close range.
With Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya and Rice struggling to settle into the game, City smelled blood.
There was a heart-in-mouth moment for Raya as Julian Alvarez closed him down, and the ball zipped into the side netting.
Around the 30th-minute mark, Arsenal began to find their way into the game, but they still hadn’t mustered an effort on target.
They had weathered the City storm but needed more bite up front.
However, Arsenal looked tame up front without wide attackers Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka.
Raya flapped at a Gvardiol cross aimed at Erling Braut Haaland as City worked their way forward through Phil Foden.
The game went into the half-time break goalless after a half where they cancelled each other out.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta brought on Martinelli for Leandro Trossard.
The move paid off as the Brazilian injected width and urgency, giving the Londoners more authority.
His corner forced Ederson to swat the ball away before heating his compatriot’s hands with a shot.
Gabriel Jesus slipped away from Phil Foden before flashing a cross, but Ake stood in the way, and it went behind for a corner.
Arsenal took the lead in the 86th minute. Kai Havertz had come on and he set up Martinelli to shoot. The Brazilian’s effort came off Ake and strolled into the net.
It was the first goal of the season for Martinelli and his first in 12 matches for club and country as Arsenal saw out a win over Pep Guardiola’s side to continue their unbeaten start.
City have now lost three games in a row and will be looking to address their poor form.
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