The Gunners took an early lead, somewhat against the run of play, as Theo Walcott raced through on goal and effortlessly chipped the ball into the back of the net.

The England international also had a hand in both the north London club?s second-half goals, releasing Aaron Ramsey to double the lead before Olivier Giroud added a third with a fantastic lob, though Alvaro Negredo grabbed a late consolation for City.

Arsenal was close to full strength, with Laurent Koscielny and Jack Wilshere returning to the starting XI and Lukas Podolski starting up front ahead of in-form Giroud. Manuel Pellegrini also fielded a strong side, pairing Edin Dzeko alongside new-boy Negredo upfront.

Both sides came into the match off the back of defeats, against Galatasaray and Bayern Munich respectively. Although last season?s Premier League runners-up controlled the opening exchanges, with Pablo Zabaleta overlapping to great effect, it was Arsenal who took the lead.

In a rare moment of possession after City?s early dominance, Wilshere found a pocket of space in the hole and sent a wonderfully weighted through-ball behind Gael Clichy for Walcott. The 24-year-old latched onto the pass and sent a cute dink over the onrushing Joe Hart.

City almost produced an instant response. James Milner freed David Silva down the right channel and continued his run into the box. The Spaniard returned the ball, but Milner?s powerful shot flew over the bar.

A long, hopeful punt into the box almost caused Wojciech Szczesny embarrassment, with Negredo out-jumping the Poland international before Koscielny booted the ex-Sevilla striker?s acrobatic effort clear from beneath his own crossbar.

Arsenal were looking most dangerous on the counterattack, and it was another swift break that almost brought a second goal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fed Bacary Sagna, cutting infield, whose fierce low drive brushed the fingertips of Hart and smashed against the foot of the post.

Each side made three changes at the break, though City maintained their control over proceedings. Yaya Toure released Negredo with a floated pass behind the Arsenal defense, but substitute keeper Lukasz Fabianski rushed off his line and pushed the ball away from goal.

The 27-year-old, the fourth-highest scorer in La Liga last term, wasted another chance moments later. Once again breaking the Gunners? offside trap, the Spaniard collected David Silva?s through-ball but fired wide of the far post.

Negredo?s profligacy would prove costly. Ramsey picked up the ball and drove forward, before playing an inventive one-two with Walcott. half-time sub Giroud dummied the English winger?s return pass, allowing Ramsey to burst through on goal, round Hart and pass the ball into an empty net.

Walcott turned provider again moments later. This time he arched a long, ranging, crossfield pass into the path of Giroud, who beat Vincent Kompany to the ball before executing a perfect lob from the edge of the box, leaving Hart helpless.

City?s control of the ball finally paid dividends with time running out, as the previously wasteful Negredo raced through on goal, fending off Koscielny with astonishing ease. Keeping the center-back at arm?s length, the Spanish striker calmly rolled the ball under Fabianski ? though it was too little, too late for City. (GOAL)


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