Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2
Although they went behind to a goal from Craig Gardner they bounced back with some outstanding play to equalise through the industrious Mathieu Flamini, before Emmanuel Adebayor grabbed a 36th minute winner with the aplomb of a great striker.
Aston Villa were never outclassed and they played with confidence built up from their recent run of success under their astute manager, Martin O'Neill.
But it was hardly surprising that Arsenal played with even more commitment than usual after they suffered their first defeat in 29 games in their Champions League game against Sevilla.
They produced a superb first half with a display of brilliant football which had to be admired by everyone.
Emmanuel Eboue was very deceptive on the right, while the industry and finishing of Flamini gave Arsenal the inspiration to bounce back in such fine style to consolidate their top of the table position.
The outcome was hardly a surprise on past encounters as Villa always find it hard going against the Gunners who generally appear to have too much fire power.
It is now 18 games since Villa last beat Arsenal but on this occasion they put up a really brave performance and only the woodwork prevented them picking up a point.
William Gallas has been an inspirational captain for Arsenal's young side and so it proved on this occasion when the Gunners had to show their defensive skills in the second half to keep out a determined Villa side.
Villa, winners of their previous four games, had a torrid first half when Arsenal's skill entertained a full house.
Scott Carson, who had kept two clean sheets after his disastrous England debut, produced two excellent early saves to keep out efforts from Eboue and Alex Hleb.
It more than inspired Villa and they took a shock 14th minute lead when John Carew's cross was deflected by Kolo Toure to Gardner to hammer his shot past Manuel Almunia.
But Arsenal hit back with a string of fine attacks and they were eventually rewarded when Flamini converted an accurate cross from Eboue in the 24th minute.
Arsenal's winner was also clinically carved out when Bacary Sagna, who had as hectic time trying to subdue the outstanding skill of Ashley Young, floated over a cross which Adebayor headed home with calm assurance.
But Villa, to their credit, bounced back in the second half and Arsenal had to produce a rearguard action with Gallas emerging as their key figure.
Young displayed some of his best form but could not create the opening for the elusive equaliser despite Patrik Berger's low shot threading its way through Arsenal's defence only for Almunia to make a smart save.