Arsenal, who started with England midfielder Jack Wilshere on the bench, were given a huge advantage in the 12th minute at Craven Cottage when Steve Sidwell was shown a straight red card for catching Mikel Arteta on the ankle with his studs.
The breakthrough arrived when Theo Walcott’s free-kick was headed across goal by Laurent Koscielny and the Frenchman’s centre-back partner Per Mertesacker arrived unmarked to head the ball home from close range.
Victory lifted Arsenal above Chelsea, but both the Stamford Bridge club and fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur now have two games in hand on Arsene Wenger’s side.
Photos: Shraddha Kapoor, Kim Sharma at 'Haseena Parkar' screening
Mumbai to Goa train: First look at the glass-top Vistadome coach
Shuttler Ashwini Ponnappa keeps it short and sexy on social media
Photos: Narendra Modi, others at Marshal Arjan Singh's funeral
Photos: Sussanne Khan and Nimrat Kaur spotted at a spa in Juhu