An own goal by Damien Delaney ultimately proved to be the difference between the two sides as despite an encouraging performance Palace lost their first home game of the season.
Arsenal found themselves in front on 15 minutes when Olivier Giroud scored a sensational bicycle kick but Joel Ward responded by netting only his second goal for the club with a sweet finish.
However the Eagles captain for the day would divert Alexis Sanchez’s header into his own net and the Gunners held on to claim the victory.
The visitors started well and caused Palace a number of early problems, and went close when they quickly countered after an Eagles corner and Santi Cazorla slid the ball into Mesut Ozil’s path, who squared it for Sanchez. The Chilean bore down on goal but saw his first shot blocked by Ward, before seeing his second attempt cleared off the line by James McArthur.
But they made their attacking threat pay when they scored after 15 minutes. Sanchez swept the ball out to Ozil who crossed towards the back post. The ball looked to be heading behind Giroud but he acrobatically scored a backwards scissor kick to find the opposite corner and beat Alex McCarthy to score at Selhurst Park for the third consecutive season.
McCarthy was then called into action again eight minutes later when he got down low to deny Sanchez, but they were stunned on 28 minutes when the hosts conjured up an equaliser.
Jason Puncheon found himself with the ball on the left and clipped it into the area where Yannick Bolasie chested it into the path of McArthur. The Scot then laid it off to Ward, who hit a crisp first-time effort from 25 yards which flew into the bottom corner of the Whitehorse goal, leaving Petr Cech helpless.
The game was flowing from end to end and McCarthy did well to push away a cheeky effort from Aaron Ramsey which saw the Welshman nonchalantly flick an Ozil cross goalwards, and then Wilfried Zaha stung the palms of Cech with a blast from just inside the box.
The half ended in controversial fashion when Francis Coquelin tripped Zaha in full flow, having already been booked earlier in the half. Referee Lee Mason decided against showing a second yellow card, but would caution James McArthur for a similar foul only 30 seconds later.
After the break Palace went agonisingly close to taking the lead three minutes into the second half. Zaha whipped an inviting cross that Connor Wickham managed to get on the end of but saw his first-time effort from six yards out strike the upright, with Puncheon blazing over the rebound.
But that miss would come to cost the Eagles as they fell behind again on 55 minutes. Hector Bellerin crossed for Sanchez and the attacker powered a header towards goal, but in his attempt to clear the ball Delaney ended up diverting the ball in the opposite direction and accidently found his own net.
Palace responded and after collecting a great pass by Wickham on his chest and beating Bellerin, Puncheon had a shooting chance but scuffed his attempt towards the grateful Cech, and Ramsey saw a blast just fly narrowly over the crossbar.
With time running out Jordon Mutch nearly scored his first Eagles goal in fortuitous circumstances when a Puncheon corner hit an Arsenal defender, ricocheted off the midfielder and flew over the bar, and from another set-piece Ward nearly bagged a brace but his header was straight at Cech.
McCarthy pulled off one further good save when Cazorla linked up with Ramsey and the shot-stopper did well to push away the Spaniard’s low attempt as the Gunners left with the three points.
Palace: McCarthy, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare, Cabaye, McArthur (Bamford 80), Zaha (Lee 76), Puncheon, Bolasie (Mutch 46), Wickham. Subs not used: Hennessey, Mariappa, Jedinak, Murray.
Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin (Oxlade-Chamberlain 64), Ramsey, Ozil (Gibbs 82), Cazorla, Sanchez (Arteta 75). Subs not used: Ospina, Debuchy, Gabriel, Walcott.