Arsenal were struggling to carve open a resilient Cardiff City defence and appeared as though they would fall to a defeat, before Nicklas Bendtner bagged a late winner to keep the Gunners from dropping points.
With Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool all winning, it looked like Arsenal were going to suffer a major setback in their title pursuit, before Bendtner pounced in the 87th minute to send the home fans wild with delight. Shortly afterwards, Theo Walcott scored a second to add some gloss to the scoreline.
Arsenal created the first real chance of a tight game when Jack Wilshere sent in a deep ball to the far post for Theo Walcott to take advantage of, but despite his pace, the winger could not get enough on it and found only the side netting with his lunging finish.
There was then a huge moment in the game when Wilshere went down under Gary Medel's challenge in the penalty area, which appeared to be a clear foul, but the referee waved play on much to the England midfielder's consternation. Walcott then blazed over as Arsenal dominated but struggled to break down a resilient Cardiff defence.
The only real chance for the visitors in the first half came through the excellent Jordon Mutch, who did well to skip past three Arsenal players on the counter before launching a great through-ball for Fraizer Campbell, but the former Manchester United striker could do nothing with it.
After the second half kickoff, Arsenal upped the tempo, but although Cardiff struggled to get into the game, they were well-organised in defence to frustrate their opponents. Wilshere again went close after cutting into the area and sending in a fierce effort, but saw himself denied by the post.
Per Mertesacker then had a fine pair of chances, both after being picked out by Walcott in the area, but twice the German failed to use his height to his advantage as he headed wide both times, leaving Arsenal struggling to find a way through for the final few minutes.
They proved to be frantic and intense ones -- Bendtner and Tomas Rosicky both went close as the visitors were forced to defend ever-deeper while the hosts desperately searched for a winner. Then they found their breakthrough -- Nacho Monreal's cross found Bacary Sagna at the far post, and in the absence of marking from defenders, David Marshall was left stranded after making the save, allowing Bendtner to pounce and hammer into the roof of the net from close range, sending the Emirates wild with ecstasy.
Arsenal then added to their celebrations by scoring a second, WIlshere's flick finding the onrushing Walcott down the right channel, and he lifted the ball over Marshall to wrap up a vital win for Arsene Wenger's men.
ArsenaI: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Flamini (Rosicky 65'), Wilshere, Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski (Bendtner 64')
Goals: Bendtner 88', Walcott 90+2'
Cardiff: Marshall; McNaughton, Caulker, Turner, John; Whittingham, Medel (Gunnarsson 61'), Kim, Noone, Mutch (Cowie 68'); Campbell (Maynard 80')