The league schedule presented the Gunners with a fantastic opportunity to put extra pressure on the chasing pack, playing 24 hours before any of their title rivals. Meanwhile, the Hatters’ run of just one win in eight league fixtures was a further boost to the visitors’ hopes.
Still, in front of the supporters that make up Kenilworth Road’s intense atmosphere, Luton were in no mood to let their more illustrious opponents dominate the game.
Rob Edwards’ side kept Arsenal quiet for the opening 20 minutes, but this campaign, Mikel Arteta’s men have been ruthless. With their first real chance of the match, they took the lead after a poor back pass to Thomas Kaminski gave the league leaders a throw-in in a dangerous position.
The equaliser appeared to wake Arsenal up, and Kaminski needed to be alert to deny efforts from Jesus, Martinelli, and Saka.
However, the hosts’ resilience was broken shortly before half-time, with another move down the right involving Saka allowing Ben White to chip up a delightful cross for Jesus to nod home.
That could well have been a hammer blow for Edwards' men, but performances against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur showed they can cause plenty of problems for the division’s big boys. And before the hour mark here, they turned the game on its head.
It was a quarter-hour spell to forget for Raya, who was first caught flapping at another Doughty corner that Elijah Adebayo headed in before the Spaniard allowed Ross Barkley’s low drive to go through him.
There have been plenty of enthralling matches in the Premier League in recent weeks, and this can be added to that list. Within 180 seconds of Barkley’s goal, Arsenal restored parity through Kai Havertz’s deft touch following Jesus’ through ball.
The remainder of the match felt like an attack-versus-defence exercise, as Arsenal tried to get past a side who were obviously content with a point. Arteta and Co. thought they should have had a penalty when Osho and Saka collided in the area but, after a VAR review, no spot-kick was awarded.
Spectators had to wait until deep into stoppage for the game’s decisive moment, but it was worth the wait for the travelling contingent. Martin Odegaard's first-time cross glanced off the head of Rice and past Kaminski, sending Arsenal fans into raptures as their Luton counterparts sunk into despair.
Remarkably, the triumph is the London side’s first at this ground in 12 meetings, and they have now prevailed in six successive fixtures in all competitions.
Edwards’ men, meanwhile, were unable to take advantage of Burnley’s 1-0 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers in their attempts to move away from the drop zone, although the boss will be pleased with his side’s display.