The Belgian scored two goals of real quality and set up Raheem Sterling for another as Guardiola's side put on a fine display in North London.
Seconds later, City were ahead after an incisive move. Fernandinho made a driving run into midfield and found Gabriel Jesus with a fine pass. The Brazilian did superbly to turn his marker and find De Bruyne on the edge of the area – and the Belgian produced a brilliant first-time side-footed finish that flew into the roof of the net.
Beautifully slick and ruthlessly efficient, it was a superb goal that gave City the perfect start.
Arsenal were visibly shaken and we doubled our lead on 15 minutes. De Bruyne turned provider on this occasion, playing a one-two with Jesus on halfway before crossing for Sterling who finished expertly at the back post to mark his 400th senior game with a goal.
It was archetypal City: enticing Arsenal towards our backline, before breaking at speed and producing quality in the final third.
⚽️ Raheem Sterling - 400th senior career appearance— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) December 15, 2019
First 300 apps - 6️⃣7️⃣ goals
Last 100 apps - 5️⃣3️⃣ goals pic.twitter.com/XXW4MAgW9H
And it got better for Guardiola's side before half-time when De Bruyne scored his second with a superb left-footed effort from outside the box.
He almost completed his hat-trick moments later, but his shot from 20 yards was pushed onto the post by Bernd Leno in the Arsenal goal.
City's dominance continued in the second half, but some profligate finishing and sloppy passing meant we couldn't extend our lead further. De Bruyne, Sterling and substitute Riyad Mahrez all had chances but failed to convert.
The final 20 minutes saw City step up a gear and move the ball superbly, and with Arsenal struggling to gain a foothold in the game, Sterling flashed an effort wide of the upright in injury time.
It was an efficient, professional performance from City.
Man of the Match: Kevin De Bruyne
The best midfielder in the Premier League, there’s very little he can’t do.
Possibly the finest passer in world football, he scores goals, produces wonderful deliveries from wide areas and shows great tenacity and desire when City lose the ball.
There’s no ego, just a brilliant footballer who sees things others can’t.
Foden on KDB
"When you have a guy like this playing, anything can happen.
"It's a pleasure to play with him and we're just happy to have the three points.
"I thought I did alright, I thought the team did well together."
200 and counting
It was a fitting result for Guardiola, who has won a remarkable 149 of his 200 matches in the City dugout, a period which has seen him average a trophy every 28 games.
Guardiola’s City record:
We have scored 47 Premier League goals already this season, the highest in the division.
And the win over Arsenal means we have won 11 of our last 12 matches in London.
What it means
The win sees City close the gap on Leicester in second place to four points. Leaders Liverpool, who won again yesterday against Watford and have dropped just two points all season, are 10 points clear of Leicester at the top.
City travel to Oxford on Wednesday for our Carabao Cup quarter final as we continue our bid to win the competition for the third successive season.
And then next Saturday, Leicester visit the Etihad Stadium for a crucial Premier League encounter. Three points in that game will see us move to within a point of the Foxes.