Another tumultuous week in the history of Crystal Palace FC nearly came to a close by securing an impressive point at the Emirates Stadium in their first Premier League outing of the season, but Aaron Ramsey's last minute goal condemned them to an undeserved defeat.
Despite seeing Tony Pulis depart the club less than 48 hours before kick-off, the Eagles side guided by caretaker boss Keith Millen more than matched last season's FA Cup winners and took the lead through debutant Brede Hangeland's header on 35 minutes.
However injury time goals in each half from Laurent Koscielny and Ramsey saw the Gunners snatch the victory, with the Eagles playing out the crucial final minutes with 10 men after Jason Puncheon was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
A quiet opening saw the visitors contain their opponents quite comfortably during the opening exchanges, with only a wild effort by summer acquisition Alexis Sanchez that missed the target by some distance all Arsene Wenger's men could muster in the opening 20 minutes.
Making his 350th appearance between the sticks for the Eagles, Julian Speroni was untroubled by a wayward Yaya Sanogo strike on the half-hour, however minutes later he made the first save of his 11th season at the club when Jack Wilshire tried his luck from 20 yards and forced the Palace custodian to push the ball around the post.
But 10 minutes before the break the visitors stunned the 60,000 in attendance by scoring with their first opportunity. Some good play by Fraizer Campbell saw the debutant win Palace's first corner of the game and Jason Puncheon's delivery was glanced into the back of the net by Hangeland who beat Laurent Koscielny to the ball at the near post.
That sent the noisy travelling contingent into a frenzy, and having controlled the majority of the game only to find themselves behind Arsene Wenger's men were shellshocked. Needing to get themsleves back into the game Mikel Arteta pished forward and drilled a shot wide of the post as they searched for an instant reply.
However just as it looked like the Eagles would head into the interval with an unexpected lead, parity was restored in first-half stoppage time. Sanchez floated free-kick into the area and in a reversal of roles Koscielny snuck in behind Hangeland to flick a header past Speroni and deal Palace a bitter blow before the interval.
Despite that setback Millen' men emerged from the dressing rooms and began the second half the brighter of the two sides and taking the game to their opponents in the early stages. They created an early chance when Puncheon shot straight at Wojciech Szczesny after Maourane Chamakh did well to get the ball under control and lay it into the winger's path.
But gradually the Gunners began to move through the gears as their passing game began to take shape and Sanchez forced Speroni to get down low to save a skidding effort before Aaron Ramsey attempted a curler from the edge of the box but again it was straight down the Argentinian shot-stopper's throat.
With 15 minutes to play Scott Dann was forced off through injury with Damien Delaney taking his place but the Palace defence continued to restrict Arsenal to few opportunities, with the Gunners being particularly prone to many mis-cued crosses and their frustration was evident as Sanchez saw a free-kick sail well over Speroni's bar.
Olivier Giroud had come on for the ineffective Sanogo and put the ball on a plate for his team-mates as he skipped to the byline and fizzed a low centre across the face of goal that evaded everybody six minutes from time, but the Eagles were dealt a blow three minutes later when Puncheon was sent off for a second yellow card after a late challenge on Nacho Monreal.
With their backs against the wall, Palace had reached injury time still level but were cruelly denied a point when during a scramble in the box Mathieu Debuchy saw a close range strike blocked by Speroni, but the rebound fell kindly to Ramsey to tap home from a yard out and ensure Palace started the season with defeat.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Koscielny, Chambers, Gibbs (Monreal 53), Arteta, Wilshere (Oxlade-Chamberlain 69), Ramsey, Cazorla, Sanchez, Sanogo (Giroud 61). Subs not used: Martinez, Coquelin, Rosicky, Campbell.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Dann (Delaney 75), Hangeland, Ward, Puncheon, Jedinak, Ledley, Bolasie (O'Keefe 90), Chamakh, Campbell (Gayle 85). Subs not used: Hennessey, McCarthy, Bannan, Murray.