LONDON (AP) -Manchester City's faint hopes of winning the Premier League may finally be over after a 1-0 loss at Arsenal that saw petulant striker Mario Balotelli sent off for the second time this season.
Mikel Arteta curled the ball inside the post in the 87th minute as Arsenal's dominance paid off to consolidate third place.
City had topped the table for most of the season but Manchester United has seized on its neighbor's collapse over the last month to surge eight points clear with six games remaining.
Even United's 2-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers earlier on Sunday provided no incentive for City's players to attempt to revive the free-flowing, attacking football that was their hallmark earlier in the season.
Instead it was an indisciplined, sloppy display at the Emirates Stadium from a side that has been built with more than $1 billion of Abu Dhabi investment.
Balotelli was dismissed in the 90th minute when he was booked again for a lunge on Bacary Sagna. Before receiving his fourth red card since joining City in 2010, a dangerous-looking knee-high tackle on Alex Song had gone unpunished in the first half.
The victory marked the latest step in Arsenal's resurgence since overhauling Tottenham's 10-point lead in third to now sit two points clear of its north London rival, which has dropped into the fourth Champions League spot.
"It's really important for us as there are a few teams putting pressure on us for a place in the Champions League," Arteta said. "We dropped points last week so this was a massive three points. It was a good goal against a good team who have spent a lot of money."
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris