Second-placed City - who are expected to shortly complete the £27m signing of striker Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg - failed to muster a single shot on target in the goalless draw, and clearly missed injured frontline duo David Silva and Mario Balotelli.
Arsenal remain in third place, two points behind City, with a match in hand, and four adrift of leaders Manchester United, who have played a match less.
The Gunners twice hit the woodwork in the first half through Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas, with England keeper Joe Hart then saving superbly from the Dutchman's 25-yard drive on the hour.
Both sides finished with 10 men after full-backs Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna were shown straight red cards by referee Mike Jones for a needless clash on the far touchline.
City drew plenty of criticism both from the television pundits for tonight's live match and also the Emirates Stadium faithful.
Mancini, though, was not concerned by the chants of 'boring, boring City'.
"It is not important for me," the Italian said.
"If one team plays well, it can happen that you must defend.
"I prefer boo in the end and to go home with one point than with three goals in our net.
"When you play here against Arsenal, it could be that Arsenal play better than you and you might defend, and this is football.
"Not all the teams can play like Arsenal.
"I think also that Arsenal won some games that they didn't deserve to win, maybe.
"We were lucky in the first 25 minutes when Arsenal have four or five chances to score but after, I think we defended very well.
"I think defensively we played well, offensively so-so but after four games in 10 days, this can be."
Mancini continued: "Arsenal is a good team, they play football very well.
"It's the same when you play against Barcelona, you play in Barca, you must defend very well if you don't want to lose the game.
"I think that if we had Silva, Balotelli probably it might have been a different game."
Mancini believed referee Jones could have shown restraint rather than go straight for his red cards.
"At the end of the game the players are tired and ref must understand that. Two Yellow cards were enough, a red card is so much," the City boss said.
United are now very much in the driving seat, but Mancini feels the title race is far from over.
He said: "We are in a good position, like Arsenal and Manchester United. The season is very long.
"Also, although Chelsea and Tottenham both lost tonight, I think they can still arrive on the top."
Arsenal beat Chelsea here on December 27, and Arsene Wenger insists his team remain very much in the hunt for the championship.
"We had the performance, but not the result," he said.
"However, I take a lot of encouragement even if mathematically we are all frustrated and the players are disappointed.
"There is no way we should lose courage or belief in our team.
"We should come out with more belief in our quality and be more resolute because we have shown we have what it takes to compete in the championship."
Wenger continued: "The regret I had was that we didn't take our early chances because an early goal would have changed the game.
"They came for a 0-0 and they got what they wanted. We played for long periods against 10 men, even Carlos Tevez, I never seen him so deep.
"But I wasn't surprised, they came here last year set up to play for a 0-0."
Wenger, though, refused to berate City's supposed negative attitude.
"We always try to win our games always. Maybe it was their way to try to win, to defend deep and catch us on the break," he said.
"We have to respect that and sort out the problems we face. Even if a team defends deep we have to find a way to score."
On the sendings off, Wenger said: "I hoped it would be two yellow because the game was not full of hate. Both teams respected each other. You could only do two reds or two yellows and he chose red."