Arsenal who are chasing a place in the top three, created enough chances to have been well ahead, with Robin van Persie's goalbound header striking team-mate Thomas Vermaelen.
In the second half both Van Persie and Theo Walcott both hit the post, and just as it looked as if the match would finish scoreless Arteta strode forwards to smash a superb, 25-yard drive past Hart into the bottom corner.
Mikel Arteta (86th minute) Video of goal by arsenalist
There was just enough time for Mario Balotelli to be shown a second yellow card for clattering into Bacary Sagna to end what was a miserable day for Manchester City players and fans who are now eight points behind Manchester United..
TOP SIX STANDINGS AS AT 8 APRIL 2012