Gabriel Martinelli returned with a bang as the Arsenal substitute’s deflected effort sealed a late, long-awaited victory against Premier League champions Manchester City.
Last season the Gunners pushed City in the title race, only to eventually fall just short as Pep Guardiola’s side went on to become just the second English team to win the treble.
Arsenal’s inability to win a point off City last term proved costly but things are already different this time around, with Martinelli’s deflected strike securing a last-gasp 1-0 win at an elated Emirates Stadium.
The substitute’s first-time effort in the 86th minute flew in off Nathan Ake, ending a run of 12 straight league losses in this fixture as they beat City in the Premier League for the first time since 2015.
This match had been heading towards a drab goalless draw, with the decision not to send off Mateo Kovacic in the first half set to be the main talking point.
But Arsenal dug deep and followed up their Community Shield shoot-out triumph against City by inflicting a third defeat in four matches in all competitions on Guardiola’s men.
Martinelli provided a box-office conclusion to an otherwise forgettable encounter that Arsenal went into without star man Bukayo Saka.
Josko Gvardiol outmuscled marker Martin Odegaard from a corner and got away a goalbound attempt that Declan Rice stopped, with Ake then blazing over after the visitors kept play alive.
That let-off for the Gunners was nothing compared to the one that followed in the 17th minute.
Dawdling goalkeeper David Raya received a squared pass and opened his body, taking the ball into the six-yard box.
But there was an audible gasp as his hesitance allowed Julian Alvarez to chase him down, leading to a blocked clearance that flew into the side-netting from two yards.
City continued confidently against the slapdash Gunners, who were creating little before play halted for a VAR review in the 28th minute.
Kovacic’s poor challenge from behind caught Arsenal skipper Odegaard on the back of his right ankle, but VAR John Brooks did not deem it worthy of upgrading from the yellow handed out.
The hosts’ sense of anger only increased in the 34th minute.
The home side harnessed that frustration during a period in the ascendancy but could not land an opening blow, with Raya again breathing a sigh of relief after flapping at a cross at the other end.
Eyebrows were raised when Kovacic returned for the second half, while Arteta decided to bring on Martinelli for his first Arsenal appearance for three weeks after a hamstring issue.
The Brazil international injected new life into the Arsenal attack, with his fine cross nearly finding compatriot Gabriel Jesus before he drove straight at Ederson.
Teenager Rico Lewis burst from the halfway line and got back to his feet after being fouled by Martinelli to beat Raya, but referee Oliver’s whistle had long since sounded for the foul.
Guardiola made a triple change – including withdrawing Kovacic – in the 68th minute in a bid to change the game. Arteta soon responded with three of his own.
Those moves saw the sides effectively cancel each other out as a lifeless encounter limped towards what looked set to be a scoreless conclusion.
But Martinelli had other ideas. Thomas Partey’s long ball forward to Takehiro Tomiyasu ended with Kai Havertz laying back for the 22-year-old to hit a first-time shot that flew in off Ake, wrong-footing Ederson.
The Arsenal hordes erupted as the four substitutes combined for a memorable winner.