The Canaries had failed to taste a victory in the seven games since Hughton arrived from Birmingham to replace Paul Lambert but finally broke their seasonal duck against the subdued Gunners.
Arsene Wenger knew his side had to take maximum points if they were to remain in contention with the top four but they now find themselves 10 points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Jack Wilshere’s return to the squad provided a major a boost ahead of the game as the England midfielder returned from 14-months on the sidelines to take a place on the bench and Wenger resisted the temptation to bring him on as Arsenal struggled to break down a resolute home side.
Norwich started promisingly with Anthony Pilkington sending a warning shot across the bow before Holt capitalised on an error from Vito Mannone to score his third goal in as many games. The 31-year-old was quickest to react and poke the ball home after Mannone had palmed Alexander Tettey’s stinging long-range drive into his path.
Having conceded nine goals in their last two games Hughton sought to tighten his leaky defence and their disciplined display only served to frustrate the Gunners and Wenger as the almost fell further behind after Michael Turned headed Pilkington’s corner just wide. The away side’s best chance fell to Oliver Giroud but he failed to connect properly as attempted to hook the ball over John Ruddy.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was thrown on just after the hour in an attempt to turn the game in Arsenal’s favour but he lasted just nine minutes before having to go off following a heavy challenge from Sebastien Bassong. Holt then thought he’d wrapped up the points for Norwich but his ambitious chip didn’t have enough on it to beat Mannone.