….The top two teams in the Premier League went head-to-head in the cup with rotated line-ups and it was City who snatched the win courtesy of a second half goal from defender Nathan Ake, Eurosport reported.

Nathan Ake was the rare hero with Manchester City’s 1-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.

The defender popped up with just his second goal of the season, a moment that proved the winner for Pep Guardiola’s charges in a cagey affair between the two best teams in England so far this term.

With just five points separating the sides in the Premier League in what is shaping up to be a captivating contest for the title, their first meeting this campaign never really lived up to its billing.

Despite making six changes, Mikel Arteta’s side created the better opportunities in the opening half, with Leandro Trossard – making his full debut – causing quite a stir down the left flank. He set the tempo at the ninth minute when he pulled a dangerous cross back to Takehiro Tomiyasu, who forced a save from Stefan Ortega.

The Belgian tested the reactions of City’s deputy goalkeeper before setting up Eddie Nketiah whose first-time near-post finish was wide of target.

City made a slow start to proceedings by their standards but could have gone ahead when Kevin De Bryune’s curler drifted painfully wide.

The hosts lost John Stones to injury before half-time but after the resumption, in the 64th-minute, his defensive team-mate Ake provided the opener with a side-footed effort after Jack Grealish kept an attack alive following Julian Alvarez’s shot against the post.

And while Arsenal – who brought on captain Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli – made a positive response to falling behind, they failed to create a clear-cut opportunity as City inflicted just a fourth defeat of the season on the North London side.

With two potentially season defining Premier League games still to come between these two, City have inflicted a psychological blow on their main rivals for the title.

While Arteta will be comforted by the fact he named a much-changed team and for large parts of the game, they matched a strong City XI, Guardiola’s side will be lifted by getting one over on the only side that has outperformed them this season so far. The result means City have now won 14 of their last 17 meetings with Arsenal in all competitions under Guardiola.

If Arsenal are to finally end a 19-year wait for a Premier League trophy, they will have to find a way of improving this dismal record. They will prepare for another showdown with the reigning champions at the Emirates on February 15