Yossi Benayoun came off the bench to head an 86th-minute winner as a below-par Arsenal side sealed a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa.
Gunners captain Robin Van Persie opened the scoring from the penalty spot with just 17 minutes on the clock, giving the visitors the lead at the interval.
However, Villa responded shortly after the break when Marc Albrighton netted the 20,000th Barclays Premier League goal after capitalising on an Arsenal defensive error.
Arsene Wenger called on Tomas Rosicky and Andrey Arshavin from the bench before playing his final card with the introduction of the 31-year-old Israeli international, who repaid the faith by netting the winner having been on the pitch only five minutes.
Benayoun rose highest to meet Van Persie's corner with aplomb, recording his first league goal in an Arsenal shirt, and Alex McLeish's misery was further compounded by the late dismissal of Villa right-back Alan Hutton for two yellow cards.
Moments after the defender was booked for dissent, he lunged into a late tackle with Thomas Vermaelen, and as the Belgian stopper was grounded, Hutton was heading for an early bath.
Villa have now won just two of their last ten league matches, losing four of the last six, leaving fans little to be cheery about this Christmas, while Arsenal returned to winning ways after Sunday's defeat to Manchester City - their only loss in their last ten outings.