"Do not concede the first goal," would have been Arsene Wenger's primary advice to his players going into the massive English Premier League clash against Manchester City, and not only did his Arsenal side not give up the first goal, they scored one of their own, and then another while holding fort wonderfully well to finally shut out those away day blues in remarkably serene style.
Arsenal can play disciplined – Wenger's most-used word in the interviews after the match – football, after all, and in a team effort of the highest order, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud scored the goals in each half to give the team from North London a thoroughly deserving 2-0 win over the Premier League champions Manchester City at the fortress Etihad.
Too many times, Arsenal have given up an early goal in these big matches, which has in turn led to them being battered and bruised as they hunt for the equaliser or that "one more and we will be equal" goal – City's 6-3 win at the same ground last season being a case in point.
This time, though, the Gunners kept Manchester City at bay – pretty comfortably, it must be said – and took their chances when they came along to dent City's hopes of retaining the title.
The win for Arsenal means they now go back to within one point of fourth-placed Manchester United, while City are now five points adrift of leaders Chelsea, who they face in their next Premier League clash, at Stamford Bridge.
Manuel Pellegrini and co. will want to forget about this performance as quickly as possible, though, because despite having 65 percent of the possession – Arsenal only had 35 percent, the lowest they have ever had since these stats started being taken into consideration – they rarely threatened their opponents goal.
Pretty much every single player out there for Arsenal stuck to his plan, staying compact down the middle, not allowing the incomparable David Silva those little pockets of space in between the midfield and defence and forcing Manchester City to go out wide and put in those crosses, which when they came, the centre-backs – Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny -- defended pretty well.
While Cazorla was a different class on Sunday, plenty of props also needs to go to Francis Coquelin, who filled that defensive midfield role to absolute perfection, making the tackles and interceptions and even finding time to yell at a couple of his teammates who were found out of position.
The other standout player for Arsenal was right-back Hector Bellerin, with the 19-year-old belying his age again, showing ridiculous maturity to frustrate the likes of James Milner, Stevan Jovetic and Gael Clichy, the former Arsenal left-back.
How Wenger would have liked pretty much every single one of such matches away from home to go the exact same way as the one at the Etihad on Sunday. The key, of course, was not conceding that first goal, and once Cazorla struck the penalty on 24 minutes, it was "you come and try to penetrate through us and we will hit you on the counter time" for Arsenal.
There was never really any doubt that Cazorla would miss from the spot once Nacho Monreal was unnecessarily blocked by Vincent Kompany as he looked to get in behind with a run, and City, from there on looked bereft of answers, hardly troubling David Ospina in goal, with the Colombian only having to make a couple of pretty routine saves.
Arsenal doubled their lead in the 67th minute via the head of Giroud, who broke clear of Fernando to head past Joe Hart via a perfectly taken freekick from, who else, Cazorla.
Manchester City, expectedly, poured forward in the final 20 minutes of the match, but Arsenal – who did not even need the brilliance of Alexis Sanchez in this game -- never looked like being broken down, and those three points, three points which will give them confidence going into more of these big away day games, were well and truly theirs.