(CNN) -- A last minute Thomas Vermaelen goal gave Arsenal a vital 2-1 Premier League home win over Newcastle on Monday, a result that closes the gap on third-placed Tottenham to just a single point.
Central defender Vermaelen pounced from close range to finally end the resistance of a stubborn Newcastle side who had defended superbly in an absorbing encounter.
Arsenal enjoyed the majority of possession but it was Newcastle who opened the scoring in the 14th minute when Hatem Ben Arfa cut inside from the right and fizzed in a low shot that beat goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny at his near post.
But, within a minute, Arsenal had drawn level and yet again it was Robin van Persie who scored for the Gunners.
The Premier League's top scorer produced great skill to hold off defender Mike Williamson before firing home his 26th league goal of the season and 33rd in all competitions.
Arsenal continued to pose the bigger threat after the break, although Newcastle looked dangerous on the counter-attack.
Tomas Rosicky nearly celebrated signing a new Arsenal contract when firing wide from close range, while substitute Gervinho somehow missed the Newcastle goal from six yards out.
Then Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul pulled off a brilliant save to tip over a powerful Vermaelen header.
But Vermaelen was not to be denied and, with just a minute of injury time remaining, Arsenal broke clear through Theo Walcott, and the England international's cross was met by his Belgian teammate who had made a 50-yard run to get into the penalty area.
Arsenal, who also became the first team in Premier League history to win four games in a row after conceding the opening goal, are now three points ahead of Chelsea in the race for fourth place, with Newcastle a further five points behind in sixth place.
Elsewhere in Europe, Getafe secured their first Spanish Primera Liga win since January with a 2-1 success at struggling Villarreal.
Goals from Diego Castro and Abdelaziz Barrada proved enough for the Madrid-based side, who are now up to 13th in the table, while Villarreal remain just three points above the relegation zone.
Meanwhile, Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven have dismissed coach Fred Rutten following a run of three straight defeats.
Rutten, who took over as coach in April 2009, is replaced by his assistant Phillip Cocu until the end of the season, after recent losses to FC Twente (6-2), Valencia (4-2) and NAC Breda (3-1).