Saturday analysis: Blues brothers take centre stage again as Costa stops the show
In some ways same old Arsenal, in many not so much. The Gunners will feel aggrieved to have walked away with just a point after valiantly battling back from Sergio Aguero's deflating opener, but really have only themselves to blame for conceding a late equaliser from a corner.
On a more positive note, however, this was the performance Arsenal fans have long awaited against a fellow big side. They won only one game against top-five finishers last season, and looked set to hit their stride this time out when Alexis Sanchez complemented Jack Wilshere's equaliser with a sumptuous volley on 74 minutes. But it wasn't to be.
Arsene Wenger's men began brightly, stringing together quick passes and firing 4 efforts at Joe Hart's goal. New signing Danny Welbeck should have put them ahead but his lob bounced off the post to safety. "We've seen this before," grumbled one Arsenal fan, "good start and then we concede." They were right.
City gained confidence after Aguero's opener, but the hosts were undeterred. Manuel Pellegrini's men were forced to concede several fouls in dangerous positions before the break, but none of those free-kicks were converted into Gunners goals.
It was turning out to be a proper midfield battle; perhaps unsurprisingly, given Pellegrini's somewhat unadventurous line-up. In the absence of "tired" Yaya Toure, the Chilean plumped for Fernandinho alongside debutant Frank Lampard (brought off at half-time with a booking to his name) and James Milner wide.
As the second half wore on, though, it was Arsenal's engine room that upped their game. Wilshere was excellent with the kind of man-of-the-match display that dared any manager to play him defensively ever again, and got his goal after gliding past Gael Clichy and firing home. Then he teed up team-mate Sanchez – perhaps the only constant attacking threat for the hosts, despite not everything he tried coming off – for a super volley that should have won the game.
But by full-time Wenger could only rue defensive lapses and an injury to Mathieu Debuchy. "It's a very encouraging game but the way we conceded the goal almost killed our game," admitted the Frenchman. "It was a mental blow and we could have lost after that."