Swansea City went down bravely at the Emirates Stadium as Andrey Arshavin's first-half goal proved the difference.
It came in unfortunate circumstances for the Swans as keeper Michel Vorm - so impressive this season - saw his attempted throw hit the heels of Angel Rangel and drop to the Russian, who made no mistake from an acute angle.
Scott Sinclair and Robin van Persie both struck the woodwork while Danny Graham missed from six yards out in added-on time as the Swans went in search of an equaliser.
With manager Brendan Rodgers absent from the game due to the passing of his father Malachy, Colin Pascoe was in charge.
The Swans were without Wayne Routledge as he missed out with an ankle injury, so Joe Allen was given the nod in a central midfield trio along with former Arsenal trainee Leon Britton and Kemy Agustien.
With Alan Tate sidelined through injury, Ashley Williams again captained the side.
Arsenal handed debuts to Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta while fellow new signings Andre Santos, Yossi Benayoun and Ju Young Park were on the bench.
Arsenal: Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Mikel Arteta, Robin van Persie (capt, Marouane Chamakh, 82), Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Andrey Arshavin (Yossi Benayoun, 64), Emmanuel Frimpong (Francis Coquelin, 76), Kerian Gibbs.
Subs: Ju Young Park, Andre Santos, Johan Djourou, Lukasz Fabianski.
Swans: Michel Vorm, Angel Rangel, Steven Caulker, Ashley Williams (capt), Neil Taylor, Kemy Agustien (Mark Gower, 65), Leon Britton, Joe Allen (Stephen Dobbie, 76), Nathan Dyer (Luke Moore, 86), Scott Sinclair, Danny Graham.
Subs: Gerhard Tremmel, Jazz Richards, Fede Bessone, Leroy Lita.
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Arsenal made a strong start and had the home fans on their feet in the opening minutes as Kemy Agustien lost possession in his own half, and Aaron Ramsey found himself with a half chance. But the Wales captain fired high and wide, much to the relief of the away section.
The Swans replied, Agustien curling in an inviting cross into the box to Danny Graham, who poked it towards the bottom corner. Only a fine reflex save low down from Wojciech Szczesny, however, prevented the striker from opening his Swans account.
Steven Caulker then had to stretch out a boot to block Robin van Persie's effort before he came to the rescue again moments later as Theo Walcott raced onto a through ball and slotted past Michel Vorm. But the Tottenham Hotspur loanee raced back in time to clear the danger and deny a certain goal.
Arsenal piled on the pressure, with Emmanuel Frimpong snatching an effort wide after a neat one-two with van Persie before Agustien looped over a free-kick 20 yards after Nathan Dyer had been brought down following a menacing break.
But after a period of pressure themselves, the Swans fell behind in bizarre circumstances in the 40th minute. After van Persie's shot was half-blocked, Vorm collected the loose, but his attempted throw to Dyer deflected off Rangel's boot straight to Andrey Arshavin. The Russian made no mistake finding the net from an acute angle.
Half-time: Arsenal 1 Swans 0
The Swans needed a reaction after the break and, after Laurent Koscielny was booked for clattering Sinclair 20 yards out, the winger's free-kick flew over the wall and onto the crossbar.
Arsenal hit the woodwork themselves, van Persie cutting inside onto his right foot before his curling effort deflected out off the post.
Both sides made a change just after the hour as Mark Gower replaced Agustien, who looked to have twinged his hamstring, while Benayoun came on for Arshavin to make his Gunners debut.
Gower was quickly into the mix, his cross finding Graham in the box, but his attempt failed to trouble Szczesny.
The Swans stuck to their principles, but it was a long pass over the top from captain Williams then almost sent Dyer in on goal, but Szczesny just got to the ball in time.
With 15 minutes left, Stephen Dobbie was introduced in place of Allen as the Swans went in search of a late equaliser.
But as the Swans were plugging away, the hosts made a fine counter as Kieran Gibbs raced down the left. His cross found substitute Marouane Chamakh, but Vorm dived well to deny him.
For the final few minutes, Luke Moore replaced Dyer as the Swans made their last substitution.
The pushed on, Rangel finding Dobbie 20 yards out, but his shot bounced wide of the far post.
Then, in added on time, the big chance arrived to level the scores. Gower's corner was nodded down by Caulker to Graham, but the striker scuffed his half volley over from six yards out.
It was a huge chance and, ultimately the last as Arsenal took the points.