It was tough luck on the Latics who would have dragged themselves out of the drop zone with a win and their survival concerns will weigh heavily over the Christmas table after suffering a sixth league defeat in eight matches.
Meanwhile, the festive cheer continues for Gunners boss Arsene Wenger and his merry men as they came away from the DW Stadium with a third successive league triumph for the first time in nine months.
The lively Arouna Kone and Shaun Maloney pushed forward for some late consolation and a desperate penalty shout in injury time with the ball crashing off the arm of Kieran Gibbs provided some late drama, but it was the north Londoners who held on.
Wigan may have started the match languishing at the wrong end of the table, but they more than played their part in a largely lively and open contest in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off.
Roberto Martinez's tenacious men had Ali Al Habsi's strong hands to thank to keep out their visitors as the keeper shut out stinging shots from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski in the first 10 minutes.
Hunting their first win in a month, few would have expected too many Wigan fireworks going forward but Kone had the perfect opportunity midway through the first half.
The dashing Ivorian was sent clear through the static Gunners defence and with the sluggish centre-half Per Mertesacker left gasping, the striker was unable to compose himself and dragged the ball wide.
Although the festive entertainment fizzed out towards the interval, Oxlade-Chamberlain's bag of tricks and pace on the right wing immediately after the break looked ominous.
The England winger's hooked pass to Theo Walcott deserved greater reward, as the striker's weak shot from six yards will not have done his push for a regular central role up front too many favours.
Just two minutes later, though, Walcott's lively artistry with Santi Cazorla broke the deadlock.
Jean Beausejour clumsily tackled Walcott from behind and despite the wolf whistles from the home faithful, there was little protest from the players and Arteta calmly slotted in from 12 yards.
All would have been swiftly forgotten a minute later as Beausejour charged down the left and with his colleagues screaming for a telling cross, the Chilean midfielder curled the ball narrowly over.
Conceding on the hour kicked life into the hosts and keeper Wojciech Szczesny had to be alert to keep out Maynor Figueroa and a low drive from the increasingly menacing Kone.
Arsenal have a history of cruising to 1-0 wins but Wenger will not have enjoyed the last few minutes of this encounter.
Wigan poured forward into the box and the French boss will have been hugely relieved to see the referee refusing to point to the spot after Jordi Gomez fired in a shot at Gibbs.
And with the last kick of the game, James McArthur narrowly missed out on an equaliser with a drilled effort to leave Wenger producing a rare smile as his side climbed to third in the Premier League.