Arsenal scored two late goals to ensure victory and remain top of the league against a resilient Cardiff side watched by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is set to take over as manager of the Welsh club.
Nicklas Bendtner broke the deadlock with two minutes of normal time remaining, firing in from close range.
Theo Walcott sealed the win in the 90th minute, getting on the end of a superb pass from Wilshere and chipping the ball into the back of the net.
Arsenal knew that only a win over Cardiff would guarantee they stay top of the Premier League table but were without striker Olivier Giroud, missing with ankle injury. Cardiff were again managed by caretaker David Kerslake, but Vincent Tan was joined in the directors box by former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is set to become the permanent successor to Malky Mackay.
The Norweigan would of been impressed with what he saw for the majority of the game as Arsene Wenger’s men were left frustrated by a Cardiff side that proved difficult to break down as they defended deep and restricted Arsenal to half chances.
Arsenal enjoyed the majority of first half possession, but failed to create clear cut chances with the best of opportunities falling to Theo Walcott who hit the side netting while latching onto a Jack Wilshere cross.
Wilshere himself had a chance late in the first half as he broke into the box before being brought down by Gary Medel. The Chilean midfielder looked to have made contact with Wilshere but not the ball and perhaps Cardiff were lucky not to have given away a penalty before half time.
The second half didn’t bring much change as Arsenal still dominated possession but struggled to break down the Cardiff defence with the Welsh side looking increasingly dangerous on the counter attack.
It was Cardiff’s turn to have a penalty shout turned down by referee Jonathan Moss. Craig Noone’s cross appeared to strike Nacho Monreal on the arm but Moss wasn’t interested in the appeals.
Wenger introduced Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner to proceedings and Arsenal upped the tempo as they searched for a goal. Wilshere struck the post before Per Mertesacker missed the target with a free header.
Arsenal finally broke down the organised Cardiff defence when Bacary Sagna’s header was well saved by David Marshall and Bendtner was the quickest to react, smashing the ball home from close range and immediately going off injured.
The victory was sealed just minutes later when Theo Walcott latched onto a flicked pass from Wilshere before calmly chipping the ball over Marshall.
The result keeps Arsenal one point clear of Manchester City at the top while Cardiff are left lingering just one point above the relegation zone, leaving Solskjaer with much work ahead.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Arteta, Cazorla, Wilshere, Walcott, Podolski (Bendtner- 64), (Vermaelen- 90)
Cardiff City: Marshall, McNaughton, Turner, Caulker, John, Noone, Medel (Gunnarsson-61), Kim, Mutch (Cowie- 67), Whittingham, Campbell (Maynard- 80)