After a troubling week on and off the pitch, second-from-bottom Palace matched the Premier League leaders for the majority of the game, but a second half Mikel Arteta penalty and a late Olivier Giroud header condemned them to a sixth straight defeat.
With Ian Holloway departing the club in midweek, Keith Millen was in the dugout to see his side go in at half-time with their opponents on the ropes, but they allowed Arsenal off the hook by conceding a spot-kick 60 seconds after the restart and despite creating numerous chances and seeing Arteta sent off, the Eagles couldn't quite snatch at least the point their performance merited.
The Gunners showed no ill-effects from their Champions League defeat in midweek and dominated possession in the opening exchanges, and brought about the first chance on three minutes. Bacary Sagna found time and space on the right and whipped in a cross for Olivier Giroud, and the on-fire Frenchman outleaped Danny Gabbidon but couldn't direct his header on target.
After absorbing that early Arsenal pressure unsurprisingly Palace created their maiden opportunity on the counter-attack. Making his first start for the Eagles, Jerome Thomas got around Sagna before digging out a cross for Barry Bannan but the smallest man on the park again failed to trouble Wojciech Szczesny with his head.
As the half reached the midway point Thomas dragged a shot wide of the near post from the edge of the area and a few minutes Marouane Chamakh nearly netted against his former club when he drove at goal, and despite taking a little nick off Laurent Koscielny Szczesny managed to keep hold of it.
Having troubled their illustrious opponents Palace's confidence was rapidly growing as they finished the half strongly. Adelene Guedioura was next to test the Gunners keeper when he latched onto a loose ball and shot from 20 yards but the Polish glovesman got down to it, and Bannan nearly curled a strike into the top corner after Gabbidon saw a shot blocked in the area after a set-piece.
But Arsenal showed their cutting edge on 37 minutes when some intricate play between Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Serge Gnabry created an opportunity for the in-form Welsh captain but his shot from a tight angle was blocked by the chest of Julian Speroni however Millen's men would have gone in at the break delighted with their first-half efforts.
But once again Palace's achilles heel came to the fore as they conceded 90 seconds after the restart. Ramsey played in Gnabry who was scythed down by Guedioura for a clear foul, and Mikel Arteta expertly converted from 12 yards to put the league leaders in front.
Gnabry almost netted an fortuitous second a couple of minutes after when Giroud again played the ball in front of the German winger and Damien Delaney slid in to take it away from him, but it deflected off the Arsenal man and only just bobbled past the upright, and the French connection combined again as Sanga found Giroud with a cross but he got his header all wrong.
However in the 65th minute Palace were given a lifeline when a long ball by Mile Jedinak caught out the Arsenal defence and Chamakh got in behind them before being brought down by Arteta 40 yards from goal. Chris Foy went straight to his pocket and sent the goalscorer off.
Bouyed by the man advantage Palace began to push more men forward and forced Szczesny into two world-class saves within 30 seconds. Firstly Joel Ward and Jimmy Kebe played a one-two on the right and the defender cut inside before letting fly for the top corner which the keeper dived at full stretch to tip the ball onto the bar.
And after the resulting corner was clipped into the area and cleared, Jedinak's volley looked destined to nestle in the net but again Szczesny reacted well to push it over the bar.
But it was the Gunners who snatched the all-important second goal when Ramsey broke forward and took on his international team-mate Gabbidon who did well to hold him up, but a dinked ball into the on-rushing Giroud allowed the Frenchman to bury a header past Speroni and clinch a hard-fought victory.
Palace: Speroni, Ward, Delaney, Gabbidon, Moxey, Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Bannan (Gayle 77), Thomas (Bolasie 57), Guedioura (Kebe 71), Chamakh.
Subs not used: Price, Mariappa, O'Keefe, Puncheon.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini (Gnabry 8, Wilshere 69), Ramsey, Cazorla (Monreal 72), Ozil, Giroud.
Subs not used: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Bendtner.