Last Updated: 14/01/13 5:34pm
The story of the game is that City secured a vital away win that once more reduces Manchester United's lead at the top to seven points. But not for the first time this season, the referee will be the main talking point after dishing out two red cards that were harsh to say the least.
Balotelli's first contribution is a handball which gives Arsenal the chance to get the ball forward.
Walcott takes an Arsenal corner which is bravely punched clear by Hart and play is halted with Nastasic down in the box.
Huge appeals from the home fans as Walcott's cross hits Clichy but play is waved on and replays show it struck his leg.
Wilshere's clever ball plays in Sagna on the overlap but his low cross is cut out by Matija Nastasic.
It will be interesting to see if one or indeed both the sides launch appeals against the two red cards.
City once again are happy to play the ball around and make Arsenal work hard to try and win it back.
You can see the red card has given Arsenal a lift and the noise level has also increased but the hosts need a goal quickly if they are going to force their way into the game.
Referee Dean deemed it as a two-footed tackle - but again it looked very harsh to me as he clearly played the ball.
That was arguably the home side's best chance of the match and really it needed to go in with time running out.
City launch a swift counter and Dzeko slips in Tevez who looks to round the keeper who just manages to nip the ball away from him.
Giroud appeals for a free-kick against Garcia and waves an imaginary card which we don't want to see.
More groans from the home fans as Walcott is flagged offside to halt the momentum they had built up.
The hosts have a free kick but Wilshere's cross is cleared by Kompany and Cazorla blazes the loose ball over.
Vermaelen again comes to Arsenal's rescue as he blocks Dzeko's cross with Tevez unmarked behind him.
Dzeko is dispossessed inside the box by Sagna and the ball breaks to him again but Vermaelen blocks his shot.
Tevez plays a neat one-two with Dseko but is just unable to get on the end of the return ball inside the box.
Wilshere is chopped down by Dzeko and the crowd are demanding a yellow card - but referee Dean ignores the pleas.
The visitors are knocking the ball around with great confidence, but Arsenal are strong in the tackle with Vermaelen leading by example.
It's City doing all the pressing at the moment as they look to find what would surely be a 'killer' goal.
Silva tries a reverse pass to Tevez in the box but Diaby reads the situation and gets in a vital tackle.
The pace of the game has been relentless since virtually the first whistle and you wonder what effect this will ultimately have on Arsenal's 10 men ...
Arsenal counter and Gibbs has his shot charged down on the edge of the area which lifts the home fans once more.
Barry attempts to chip the ball into the path of Dzeko, but Vermaelen sees the danger and heads clear.
Ironic cheers as Walcott is fouled and a free kick is awarded. Wilshere takes it but Kompany heads clear.
Walcott is caught offside twice in quick succession, but at least the Gunners have started the half in positive fashion.
Dylan Milner says: 'I went bananas when the red card was given! Was so harsh! Has completely changed the game and I don't see us getting back into this.'
Arsenal get the second period started and face a huge mountain to climb if they are to get anything from the game.
Dave in Bolton says: 'City playing really well - hope we continue the same way in the 2nd half but you're always on edge being a City fan lol. Come on the BLUES!'
'Well what can I say ... certainly Mike Dean ruined the game for Arsenal, really harsh red. Has someone got the stats for Arsenal's winning rate with Mike Dean as official? Did he ever give a penalty to Arsenal? Really ruined my Sunday,' says a disgruntled Nicola Kazimir.
Jake JG says: 'No way a red card! The ref must be drunk! Not at all deserved in the 9th minute, although we must battle on. Heads up boys! Fight on! And PODOLSKI to play through the middle!!!! Will definitely score!'
William Gallini-Poole says: 'At the start I thought Arsenal would scrape a 2-1 lead. Now I don't see any comeback for Arsenal. I think Wenger should have played Mikel Arteta because he can score from distance and can also set up a goal. Zabaleta is on amazing form today. MOTM so far.'
The half-time whistle is greeted with a chorus of boos from the home fans but, perhaps surprisingly, Arsene Wenger goes straight down the tunnel and none of the home players speak to referee Dean whose early red card certainly changed the game's momentum.
That surely would have been game over had it gone in, but Wilshere again shows the value of having defenders on the line at set pieces.
Signs once again that the hosts think they can still get back into the game despite that early red card.
Wilshere floats it into a crowded box and Sagna is left in a heap before City scramble the ball clear.
Silva is penalised for a foul on Wilshere and it's a free-kick to the Gunners 35 yards out and fairly central.
City are playing the ball around and appear happy to take the sting out of the game as half-time approaches.
Great one-touch move from Arsenal threatens to put Walcott through, but Zabaleta makes a great block.
It has to be said City have been winning the bulk of the tackles all over the pitch - there is a steely determination about them.
GOAL! Zabaleta wins a crunching tackle on Gibbs and sets Milner away. His low cross is met by Tevez and although the keeper makes a great save, the ball rolls kindly to Dzeko who simply can't miss from close range.
Santi Cazorla has seen little of the ball but he does manage to get in a cross but Hart gathers at the near post.
Silva takes another corner and plays it short to Barry whose cross picks out Garcia who heads just wide.
Good City move sees Silva pull the ball back for Tevez on the edge of the box but his shot is straight at keeper Szczesny.
More controversy as Arsenal were aggrieved at the free-kick being given after play had initially being allowed to carry on - but they had switched off allowing City to take it quickly.
GOAL! Quickly-taken free-kick by City sees Silva find Tevez who slides in Milner and he produces a superb angled drive from just inside the box.
Good work by Sagna sees him force a corner. Wilshere takes it and Hart punches clear but it drops to Walcott 20 yards out who drives the ball over.
Good cross from Milner is flicked on by Kompany and is just inches ahead of a lunging Tevez at the far post.
Huge drama with referee Mr Dean giving the red which seems harsh. I think it was a penalty although you see similar offences go unpunished in EVERY game nowadays.
Arsenal forced into a change with defender Per Mertesacker coming on for striker Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Dzeko takes it and the ball hits the keeper's legs, cannons against the post and rolls along the line before Szczesny gathers.
Wilshere then tries to play in Walcott at the other end, but City clear in what has been a bright start to the game.
Milner finds space 40 yards from goal and tries to slide the ball through for Edin Dzeko, but it's overhit and Szczesny gathers.
Kompany is then put under pressure by Theo Walcott, but does well to hold him off and then clear downfield to James Milner who is fouled.
keeper Joe Hart - playing his 200th game for City - kicks downfield as he deals with a Vincent Kompany backpass.
Carlos Tevez bursts down the City left and gets in a cross which is blocked by Jack Wilshere for the game's first corner, but Silva's kick is scrambled clear.
City get us under way and know victory is now a must with United having beaten Liverpool to extend their lead at the summit to 10 points.
Getrard Michaud says: 'Man City should win but Arsenal have their backs to the wall and that's when they perform at their best. Arsenal simply can't take their chances when they have the ability to get in front but today they can stay in touch. That's why I think Arsenal 2-1. Carzola and Walcott and Tevez.'
'All this talk of an Arsenal walkover is worrying me as an Arsenal fan. Few teams with the likes of Kompany, Tevez, Hart and Silva are 'weak'. Home advantage is certainly a big factor and I hope we can step up to the mark. But don't get carried away fellow Gooners!' says Lewis Pacey.
Davi Soffer says: 'The speed of Walcott, the power of Podolski and Diaby along with the guile of Wilshere and Cazorla.....don't think City will cope, especially as they are missing Yaya Toure in their midfield. 2-0 Arsenal!'
Robbie Parle says: 'This game is going to hinge on two things - firstly, whether or not Diaby is fully fit and able to exploit a City midfield weakened by the absence of Yaya Toure and secondly, Sergio Aguero's absence, who always offers City more going forward. I also feel Wengers decision to hand Theo a start through the middle ahead of Giroud is a gamble, as he has gone missing in our last two games. It's going to be a tight game as always, but I just feel Arsenal will be that little more hungry.'
Omar Willis in Jamaica says: 'I think Arsenal will just love this game, it's gonna be an open match with end-to-end action. Walcott will flourish in this one with his pace and I'm predicting a 3-2 Arsenal victory.'
'Really love the starting line up of Arsenal today. Diaby, Wilshere, Cazorla in the middle will be an impossible task for Milner, Barry and Garcia. I really hope Arsene sticks to this starting XI this season, with Arteta and Rosicky as midfield backups or starters. I fancy a 3-0 for Arsenal. I really can't see city winning this against this Arsenal team,' says Nicola Kazimir.
'I personally think if Arsenal want to contend, they need to prove they can get points against the top teams. For me the full backs need to give assistance to the wingers plenty throughout the game. The midfield need to dominate or expect a routine City win,' says Cameron Dhaliwal.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger welcomes Abou Diaby back from injury to replace Mikel Arteta for the visit of Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City. Diaby has not featured since September due to a thigh injury but returns to soften the blow of losing Arteta, who confirmed on Twitter he would miss out. Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko are named in attack for Man City, with Joe Hart and Matija Nastasic returning to the starting XI and Javi Garcia continuing in midfield with Yaya Toure away on international duty.
The teams are as follows - Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Diaby, Wilshere, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski, Walcott. Subs: Mannone, Mertesacker, Andre Santos, Giroud, Ramsey, Coquelin, Jenkinson. Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy, Javi Garcia, Barry, Milner, Silva, Tevez, Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Sinclair, Kolarov, Suarez, Rekik, Balotelli. Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
Dave From Bolton says: 'I think City need to get at Arsenal straight away otherwise I think it will be a very hard game for us. Can't see us clawing the 10 points back either. Mario simply has to go.
Mason Pitt: 'I fancy Arsenal to scrape this one 2-1, we usually perform quite well against City. Kompany also said in the first half of the season on Match of the Day we was the hardest team they had played so far, hopfully we can perform as well as we did at the Etihad and this time finish our chances.'
Josh Ramsey says: 'I'm an Arsenal fan and I think this is a good chance to show what sort of club we still are - we need to win to keep the top 4 spot alive with Spurs and Everton serious contenders. City, on the other hand, need to win to keep their title hopes alive.'
'Personally I think if Arsenal are going to win today they need to show the same kind of fluid performance they showed against Newcastle. If they perform like that they can easily get 2 or 3 goals against Manchester City today. I think the first 15 minutes though will really decide the outcome of this match,' says Elliot Bourdais.
First e-mail of the day comes from James Botterill who says: 'I think this game has the potential to be a 10-goal thriller! End to end suspense throughout! Looking forward to it!' Well, I hope you're right James!
Our colleagues at Sky Bet make Arsenal 6/4 to win the game, with City 13/8 and the draw on offer at 5/2. Theo Walcott is 6/1 to be first goalscorer with Olivier Giroud 13/2 and Lukas Podolski 7/1. For City, Carlos Tevez is 9/2 and Edin Dzeko 11/2.
Good afternoon and welcome to our coverage of today's Premier League encounter between Arsenal and Manchester City. The game was in some doubt when a suspect package was discovered in a car park adjacent to the Emirates Stadium and the ground was cordoned off at around 2.30pm. But everything is now back on track for kick-off at 4pm after police carried out checks. City fans will be hoping Liverpool can hit back as they currently trail 2-1 at Manchester United in the other huge game being played today and that would mean defending champions City would start the game 10 points behind their neighbours who top the table. Team news to follow and, as always, we welcome your views so send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll publish the best ones.