Tottenham Hotspur dropped nine points behind Arsenal as Tomas Rosicky’s second-minute wonder strike gave the Gunners a narrow victory in the north London derby.
The winner came after just 71 seconds courtesy of a thunderbolt from the Czech midfielder and, despite laying siege to the visitors’ goal throughout the second half, Spurs were unable to find a leveller.
Chadli twice went agonisingly close mid-way through the second half for the home side, and Adebayor’s late curled shot was kept out by Szczesny as Arsene Wenger’s side increased the gap on their north London rivals.
Laurent Koscielny had a good penalty shout waved away in the second half but Rosicky’s early opener was enough to decide the tie.
The winger played a one two with Oxlade-Chamberlain outside the box with his side’s first attack and drilled an unstoppable half volley first time into the top left corner from a tight angle to stun the White Hart Lane crowd.
The visitors should have gone 2-0 up inside 15 minutes when Oxlade-Chamberlain broke through on the right, only to miscue his dink over Lloris which bounced wide of the left post.
No-one was on hand to meet Townsend’s low cross which flashed across the face of the goal as Spurs tried to get a foothold in the game, instructed by the at times incandescent Tim Sherwood on the touchline.
Tottenham were pressing Arsenal but failing to cause any real problems, while the Gunners looked dangerous on the counter, frequently getting in behind a high Spurs back line.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s fierce drive was deflected wide when he met Podolski’s pull back but Adebayor almost levelled for the home side when he turned Naughton’s cross from the right narrowly the wrong side of the far post.
Eriksen went close with a free-kick from the 30 yards before Podolski hit the side netting for Arsenal in what was an open and end-to-end first 35 minutes.
Arsenal were let off early in the second half when Szczesny twice spilled aerial balls inside the box to Nacir Chadli. But the midfielder miscontrolled the first chance before firing straight at Mertesacker on the line with the second.
Chadli again went agonisingly close when he met Townsend’s cross inside the six-yard box but, with the ball played just behind him, he was unable to turn it inside the gaping net, leaving Sherwood with his head in his hands on the touchline.
Spurs looked the better team after the break and Adebayor went close when he nodded Chadli’s cross inches wide.
Tim Sherwood made a double substitution of Paulinho for Sandro and Sigurdsson for Chadli with just over 20 minutes to play, but Spurs struggled to maintain their momentum and Arsenal began looking to kill the game.
The visitors had a strong penalty shout turned down when Vertonghen appeared to pull down Koscielny under a cross, and Lloris got down well to keep out Mertesacker’s shot on the turn.
The late introduction of Soldado failed to create the breakthrough and Arsenal survived a succession of Spurs attacks in stoppage time to get away with all three points.
Tottenham starting XI: Lloris; Naughton, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose; Sandro (Paulinho, 67); Townsend, Bentaleb, Eriksen (Soldado, 82), Chadli (Sigurdsson, 67); Adebayor.
Subs not used: Friedel, Walker, Lennon, Kane.
Arsenal starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Arteta, Rosicky (Flamini, 68), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Vermaelen, 84), Podolski (Monreal, 76), Cazorla, Giroud.
Subs not used: Fabianski, Sanogo, Jenkinson, Gnabry.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).
Bookings: Sagna, 22, Chadli, 32, Sandro, 50, Vertonghen, 75, Flamini, 79, Rose, 90, Soldado, 90.