1 City's title challenge has run aground once and for all

There had been a desperation to Manchester City's pursuit of United at the top even before kick-off, the champions having opened up an eight‑point lead by defeating Queens Park Rangers in the earlier kick-off. Defeat ensured that chasm still gapes with only six games to go. Suddenly it all feels too much. City deserved little from this encounter, limping through a contest they so needed to win. Where was the urgency in the opening period? Or the ambition after the interval? The longer the match drifted on, the more assured Arsenal, not City, appeared. Roberto Mancini looked helpless in his technical area wearing a "me against the world" expression. His team have improved this term, but they are still not to be title winners.

2 Balotelli may be missing for the league run-in

That may feel like a blessing now. The run-in to this campaign already felt dominated by Mario Balotelli and his propensity to self‑destruct, with the third dismissal of his season for a pair of fouls on Bacary Sagna suitably baffling. That will incur a three-match ban given previous misdemeanours, but there could yet be retrospective action for him planting his studs high into Alex Song's right shin after 20 minutes. That offence appeared to go unnoticed by Martin Atkinson, with David Pizarro and Tomas Rosicky in his line of his sight, meaning an offence that would normally carry a three-match ban could prompt belated sanction. Balotelli's season could potentially be over. Why always him? There's a simple answer to that. This was another one of his liability days.

3 Silva was missed, but losing Yaya Touré was key on the day

The visitors undoubtedly missed the subtle creativity that is usually provided by David Silva – or at least had been until this campaign caught up with the Spaniard in recent weeks – with their creator-in-chief absent with a knee injury here. Yet, on the afternoon, the sight of Yaya Touré hobbling off after jarring a leg following a challenge from Alex Song felt just as significant. The midfielder is influential at both ends in this City team, a leggy presence in defence and surging forward in attack, and it was no surprise when Pizarro was slow to close down Mikel Arteta as the Spaniard converted the only goal. Touré might not have been so easily bypassed.

4 Arsenal sense third place is there for the taking

This was a hugely significant victory for Arsenal in their pursuit of third place and Champions League football. Tottenham Hotspur had actually edged back ahead of them in the table some 24 hours earlier, and Chelsea and Newcastle United were breathing down their necks. So to emerge victorious from what appeared their most demanding fixture of the run-in – Chelsea are still to visit – felt psychologically significant. Laurent Koscielny will be absent, suspended for their fixtures against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic, but Arsène Wenger's side can cope, on this evidence. They were the hungrier and, ultimately, more impressive side against City. They can approach their remaining fixtures with relish.

5 Gunners no longer rely only upon Van Persie

The Dutchman remains this side's source of inspiration, providing bite and fluid motion to their frontline, but Arsenal no longer feel quite so reliant upon Robin van Persie's input to chisel out victories. This was a fourth successive game without a goal from the Dutchman, a drought in such a prolific campaign, even if he did everything but score: he struck a post with a header, saw Thomas Vermaelen inadvertently clear another goal-bound attempt from the line, and had a goal disallowed for offside. The goals will return to swell Van Persie's already healthy tally, but Arsenal know they can thrive against quality opponents again, regardless of whether their top scorer hits the net.