A goalless draw was enough to send us through to the last 32 of the Europa League, with two group games to spare.
Jack Wilshere came closest to scoring, when he saw an effort well cleared off the line in the second half.
But Red Star proved obdurate opponents, and more than played their part in a result which suits both sides, although leaves us a point short of confirming top spot in the group.
During the opening exchanges, most of the energy and enthusiasm inside Emirates Stadium was being generated by the visiting Red Star fans, rather than the players on the pitch.
It took 10 minutes for us to fashion a decent chance.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles did well on the left wing, broke into the box before delivering a low cross to Olivier Giroud at the near post, but Milan Borjan did well to parry the Frenchman's first-time shot.
In truth the game never really ignited. On the half hour Francis Coquelin injected some urgency when he intercepted the ball in midfield and sprung a counter-attack, working his way all the way into the area. But he dwelt on possession too long, rather than releasing Wilshere, and the opportunity was lost.
Both teams then had decent chances in the space of a minute. First Joe Willock won the ball before teeing up Giroud, but Borjan was quickly and bravely off his line to snuff out the chance.
At the other end Matt Macey, making his first European appearance, made two full-stretch saves. The second in particular, from Vujadin Savic, was an excellent stop, getting a fingertip to a close-range header to divert the ball onto the crossbar.
As the half drew to a close, Richmond Boakye had a golden opportunity to give the visitors the lead. He burst through one on one with Macey, but got his angles all wrong, flashing his shot wide.
The Gunners began to take the game to the Serbians more in the second half. Giroud had a couple of sighters before Reiss Nelson burst into the box and was only stopped by a well-timed challenge.
Wilshere came within inches of breaking the deadlock as the game started to open up. He took the ball off the toes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles inside the area, shot past the keeper, but Damien Le Tallec flew in to clear the shot off the line.
Much to the approval of the Emirates crowd, Eddie Nketiah - two-goal hero in the Carabao Cup - was introduced for the last 20 minutes or so, and although he showed some nice touches, he was well-shackled by the experienced Serbian defence.
Late on Theo Walcott headed wide, and then failed to connect with a volley after Mohamed Elneny headed the ball into his path.
Boakye blazed wide as the visitors continued to be a threat on the counter, but they seemed happy to settle for a point and defended well in the closing minutes to earn the draw.
23 year old goalkeeper Macey was named in the starting line-up for his European debut, and only his second first-team appearance overall after playing against Norwich last week.
He didn't have a great deal to do, but looked solid throughout. Here are his highlights.
1 - He got his first touch in the first minute, advancing out of his box quickly to head away a long clearance from his opposite number.
3 - Macey deals with a back pass calmly and quickly under pressure from advancing Red Star attackers.
35 - After a long spell as a spectator, he was called into action twice in quick succession. First he leapt high to tip over a 20-yard shot for a corner.
36 - From the resulting set-piece, the keeper used all of his six foot seven inch frame to push a close-range header onto the bar and away to safety.
51 - Macey comfortably dealt with a low strike from Slavoljub Srnic, getting his body behind the ball.
80 - It was a quiet second half for the stopper, but he recycled possession well, passing to Reiss Nelson out wide to start an attack.
WHAT IT MEANS
With Cologne earning a 5-2 win at home, the draw was enough to see us through to the knock out stages, but we have not yet sealed top spot.
The manager will make wholesale changes to the side for the trip to unbeaten Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.
As far as this competition is concerned however, we travel away to Cologne in three weeks' time for matchday five. The Germans beat Borisov 5-2 at home tonight, and are still in contention to qualify themselves. A draw will see us top the group.
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