Manchester City got back to winning ways in the Premier League after Raheem Sterling's first-half goal handed them a 1-0 victory over Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium.
City, who had won just four points from their first three league games this season, took the lead in the 23rd minute when Sterling swept home the rebound after Bernd Leno kept out Phil Foden's initial shot.
Arsenal, who made a late change before kick-off with David Luiz replacing the injured Rob Holding, had their chances but Ederson made crucial saves to deny Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The hosts struggled to kill the game off and the Gunners handed a debut to Deadline Day signing Thomas Partey late on as they searched for an equaliser, but there was no way through for Mikel Arteta's side as City held on for a confidence-boosting win.
Pep Guardiola's team, who still have a game in hand, move up to 10th on seven points after a seventh straight Premier League win over Arsenal, while the Gunners stay fifth on nine points.
- Man City-Arsenal player ratings: Sterling stars
- How Man City and Arsenal lined up | Match stats
- Premier League table | Fixtures | Live on Sky
How Man City edged past Arsenal…
City started firmly on the front foot as Riyad Mahrez bent a shot narrowly wide with less than a minute on the clock before teeing up Sergio Aguero, who headed over moments later.
Manchester City: Ederson (8), Walker (7), Dias (7), Ake (7), Cancelo (6), Rodrigo (7), Foden (7), Silva (7), Mahrez (8), Aguero (7), Sterling (8).
Subs: Gundogan (6), Fernandinho (n/a).
Liverpool: Leno (6), Luiz (7), Gabriel Magalhaes (6), Tierney (6), Bellerin (6), Ceballos (7), Xhaka (7), Saka (7), Willian (5), Aubameyang (5), Pepe (6).
Subs: Lacazette (5), Nketiah (n/a), Partey (n/a)
Man of the match: Raheem Sterling
The hosts eventually took the lead in the 23rd minute and the returning Aguero was involved again. The Argentina striker latched onto Mahrez's inch-perfect pass before feeding Foden. The England midfielder cut inside Hector Bellerin before seeing his shot was parried by Leno, but the rebound fell kindly for Sterling to side-foot home.
Arsenal tried to find an instant response as Saka created shooting space, but his effort was pushed over before Nicolas Pepe headed Willian's cross wide.
Leno then had to be at his best to stop Foden adding to City's advantage after they capitalised on a loose pass by Gabriel, but the Gunners took encouragement as they finished the half stronger.
Ederson was forced into a brilliant save to deny Saka, who saw his shot truned over the crossbar by the goalkeeper, and he had to make himself big once again to deny Aubameyang - with replays showing the Gabon forward was onside even as the flag went up.
Arsenal then wanted a penalty just before the break for a high foot from Kyle Walker just before Gabriel fired wide, but referee Chris Kavanagh and VAR were uninterested.
After the break, it was a cagier affair, but it was Arsenal who threatened first as Pepe headed straight at Ederson. Next, Saka was felled by Ruben Dias before David Luiz sent the resulting free-kick over the crossbar.
- Sergio Aguero returned to start for Manchester City against Arsenal but Aymeric Laporte was missing from the matchday squad. Aguero made his first appearance since suffering a knee injury against Burnley in June, while Nathan Ake lined up alongside Ruben Dias in defence. Those were two of four changes for City as Bernardo Silva replaced the injured Kevin De Bruyne and Joao Cancelo came in for Benjamin Mendy.
- Arsenal were forced into a late change before kick-off with David Luiz replacing Rob Holding, who picked up a hamstring injury in the warm up. The Gunners were able to include left-back Kieran Tierney after his period of self-isolation, while Granit Xhaka and Nicolas Pepe replaced Mohamed Elneny and Eddie Nketiah. New signing Thomas Partey was among the substitutes.
Luiz then narrowly avoided an own goal at the other end, diverting Joao Cancelo's low cross wide of the far post forced space before Pepe curled another free-kick narrowly wide
Sterling then missed a late chance to settle the contest, but it did not prove costly as City held on for a morale boosting victory.
Should Arsenal have been awarded a penalty?
Micah Richards and Sol Campbell take a look at Kyle Walker's high challenge during Manchester City's 1-0 win over Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium, which the away team felt should have resulted in a penalty.
What the managers said
Man City boss Pep Guardiola: "It was difficult but we have won 1-0 and Ederson again was incredibly active like he was against Leeds. We are still a little bit away from our best performance that we are wishing but for many reasons it is not possible. The victory helped us a lot, we defended really well, deep and up front and a good three points against an impressive opponent.
"Arsenal has two or three more weeks preparation in pre-season which we did not have. Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo came back from injury, four players from Covid could not train, Ilkay Gundogan was 15 days off and is still far away and that is why we are a little bit away from where we want to be."
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta on whether his side should have had a penalty: "Well, that has to be checked [by VAR]. They said that they checked, and I asked 'How the hell have you checked if you took two seconds to check that action?' Obviously there is something there."
Arteta on the game: "I'm sad not to get anything from the game. I felt we kept growing and growing, having more belief that we could get something. I'm proud of the way we played individually and collectively. It's not easy to produce a performance in a stadium like that. We need everything to go our way to get a win here. The three or four chances you need to put them away."
Man of the match - Raheem Sterling
Arsenal will be sick of the sight of Raheem Sterling.
The England international has been directly involved in six goals in his last five Premier League appearances against Arsenal (4 goals, 2 assists).
He has had a hand in each of City's last five goals in all competitions (4 goals, 1 assist).
📊 Raheem Sterling’s contribution for @ManCity tonight— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) October 17, 2020
72 touches, 6 in opposition box
Completed 52/60 passes
1 chance created
2 shots, 1 on target
Scored 1-0 winner - 35th club goal since start of last season, more than any player for a PL side pic.twitter.com/eWKpkCcT66
Opta stats - Man City continue Premier League dominance over Arsenal
- Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 10 Premier League encounters with Arsenal (W8 D2), since a 1-2 loss in December 2015.
- Arsenal are winless in their last 29 Premier League away games against "big six" opponents (D10 L19) since a 2-0 win versus Manchester City in January 2015.
- Arsenal have lost each of their last seven league games against Manchester City, their longest such run against an opponent since losing seven in a row vs Ipswich between 1974-1977.
- Pep Guardiola has won 500 games in all competitions as a manager (including Barcelona B), winning 172 as Manchester City boss.
Manchester City host Porto in their opening Champions League group game on Wednesday at 8pm, before going to West Ham on Saturday, kick off at 12.30pm.
Meanwhile, Arsenal start their Europa League campaign on Thursday with a trip to Rapid Wien (kick off 5.55pm) before hosting Leicester on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Box Office (kick off 7.15pm).