Chelsea moved level with the fourth-placed Gunners on 49 points as Didier Drogba's second-half goal - his 100th in the Premier League - steered them to victory over 10-man Stoke at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues, playing their first league match since Andre Villas-Boas was sacked and Roberto Di Matteo was appointed as his interim replacement, hit the crossbar twice in the first half through John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic before Drogba made the breakthrough midway through the second period.
The Ivorian was played in by Juan Mata and strode past Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic before tapping home against a Potters side who had been reduced to 10 men following the first-half dismissal of Ricardo Fuller for a stamp on Ivanovic.
Sunderland moved up to eighth after a 1-0 win over Liverpool at the Stadium of Light.
Nicklas Bendtner scored the only goal in the 56th minute, tapping home from close range after the ball twice hit the post, first from Fraizer Campbell's shot and then after it rebounded on to the woodwork off Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina.
The result extended Liverpool's winless league run to four games and left them 10 points outside the top four.
Nikica Jelavic scored the only goal of the game on his full debut to help Everton inflict Tottenham's third league defeat on the trot and left them just four points ahead of Arsenal and Chelsea.
After two substitute appearances the Croatia international opened his Toffees account, having joined from Rangers in January, with what proved to be the winner in the first half.
Jermain Defoe had an effort ruled out for offside while Louis Saha was denied a goal against his old club when he hit the post in stoppage time.
Spurs' gap over Arsenal could be cut to just a point if their North London rivals defeat Newcastle on Monday night.
The result also extended Everton's unbeaten run to 10 in all competitions and they head into Tuesday's Merseyside derby at Anfield just two points behind Liverpool.
Bolton boosted their survival hopes with a controversial 2-1 win over QPR in the early kick-off at the Reebok Stadium which kept the issue of goal-line technology in the headlines.
Ivan Klasnic scored the vital winner late on to end a run of four straight defeats for Owen Coyle's men, but the major talking point was the failure of referee Martin Atkinson and his officials to award a first-half goal to QPR's Clint Hill, whose header from a corner was clearly over the goal-line before Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan clawed it out.
Bolton instead took the lead through Darren Pratley, with Djibril Cisse's strike early in the second half looking as though it would earn QPR a point until Klasnic's late heroics, the Croatian teed up by a wonderful pass from Arsenal loanee Ryo Miyaichi.
Mark Hughes' team have now won only one of their last 16 league games and knew they would slip into the bottom three by the end of the day's programme.
Blackburn kept themselves out of the bottom three with a 2-0 win at fellow strugglers Wolves.
Junior Hoilett scored the first goal in the 43rd minute with an acrobatic strike after Wolves, who have now won only one of their last 14 league games, failed to clear a long throw-in.
The Canadian added a second for Rovers in the 69th minute as Wolves finished the day second-bottom of the table.
Aston Villa ended a five-match winless run as Andreas Weimann's injury-time goal was enough to beat in-form Fulham.
Cottagers goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer failed to hold a shot by Gary Gardner from outside the box and Weimann reacted quickest to scramble the ball home and end Fulham's run of three straight wins.
Saturday's Premier League Results
Sunderland 1-0 Liverpool
Chelsea 1-0 Stoke
Everton 1-0 Tottenham
Aston Villa 1-0 Fulham
Bolton 2-1 QPR
Wolves 0-2 Blackburn
Sunday's Premier League Fixtures
Man Utd vs West Brom
Swansea vs Man City
Norwich vs Wigan
Monday's Premier League Fixture
Arsenal vs Newcastle