Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger conceded the Premier League leaders had to work hard for their 2-1 win over Tottenham in the north London derby at the Emirates.
Wenger's side will go into Christmas top of the Premier League
"It was a very difficult victory and we were not at our best," he told BBC Sport. "Spurs were the sharper ones and the better team in the first half.
"What was important for us was three points against a side that has improved tremendously in recent weeks.
"We prefer to be where we are in the table and will have a happy Christmas."
Arsenal's winner was scored by Nicklas Bendtner with his first touch after coming on as a substitute.
Wenger added: "That is part of the luck in the changes. Nicklas has the quality and scored a great goal as he was on the move and hanging in the air. It was a great, traditional English header."
The turning point in the game arguably came with the score at 1-1 - when Gunners goalkeeper Manuel Almunia saved a penalty from Robbie Keane.
Almunia said: "Intuition played a big part in that and also luck. I also have a good goalkeeping coach in Gerry Peyton and we speak about penalties, about everything and the other team and, in this case, it has been very good for me.
"I am very pleased to be in the Arsenal goal every game but I take this as a part of my life and I have to treat every match like the first one and enjoy my situation now."
Tottenham assistant manager Gus Poyet refused to blame Keane for the defeat.
"It is nothing to do with Robbie really. He is the one taking the penalties so the only one who has the chance to miss them," he stated.
"It is the way we lost the game after that. Everybody was marked and everybody was picking up a player but one of our players didn't follow his man, got a little block from someone and they scored.
"When you give that kind of position to a team like Arsenal it is very difficult to win games."
However, Poyet praised his team's performance and added: "We made a great effort but, unfortunately, we didn't take the chance of the penalty and let them in for the second goal. We are disappointed and it is a sad day for Spurs.
"We accept that the team performed at a very good level against one of the top teams in England so we must learn a lot from the game and try to get better every week."