Two goals in the last three minutes kept Arsenal top of the Premier League and condemned Cardiff to defeat in front of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is tipped to take over as their new boss.

Nicklas Bendtner fired in the opener from close range before immediately going off with an ankle injury.

And in the 90th minute Theo Walcott - who had earlier hit the post - converted Jack Wilshere's sublime pass.

Cardiff are set to name Solskjaer as successor to Malky Mackay.

And the former Manchester United striker was sitting alongside Bluebirds' owner Vincent Tan in the Emirates Stadium directors' box after holding talks to take over as manager.

Arsenal's year to remember

Arsene Wenger's Arsenal collected a Premier League-high 82 points in 2013, including 25 wins and just six defeats. The Gunners failed to win any of their first three matches of the year.

The Norwegian would have been encouraged with what he saw as the well-organised visitors held Arsenal until the dying minutes when goals from substitute Bendtner and Walcott left Cardiff only two points above the drop zone.

For a long time it looked as though Arsene Wenger's men, who started the day top before briefly being displaced when Manchester City won the early kick-off game, would be left frustrated as they enjoyed plenty of the ball without being able to break Cardiff down.

The hosts were restricted to half chances for the majority of the first half, with Walcott side-footing the best chance over the bar.

A lot of the main striker responsibilities at Arsenal have fallen to Olivier Giroud this season but, with the Frenchman missing with an ankle injury, Lukas Podolski made his first start since August.

Arsenal 2-0 Cardiff: Arsene Wenger rues striker shortage

Arsenal have not been prolific at home so far this season, going into the match with only 16 league goals from nine matches.

And the Gunners' lack of striking options will inevitably lead to more questions being directed at Wenger about potential targets this transfer window, with the first half display doing little to convince they have a suitable replacement for Giroud.

Cardiff, going into the game with only one league win in nine matches, defended deep but looked dangerous on the break as Fraizer Campbell worked tirelessly in attack.

The few Arsenal chances that did arrive mostly fell to Walcott, who shot into the side-netting while stretching from a Wilshere cross early on before just failing to get on the end of a Mikel Arteta through ball.

Wilshere had a penalty appeal turned down late in the half after going down under the challenge of Gary Medel, who looked to have made contact with the Arsenal man and not the ball.

An injury-hit Gunners side, who were also missing Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Kieran Gibbs and Tomas Rosicky, continued to struggle to create chances in the opening stages of the second half, although they were enjoying the majority of the possession.

Arsenal 2-0 Cardiff: David Kerslake certain of Bluebirds survival

England midfielder Wilshere was attempting to spark his side into life, but it was Cardiff who had a penalty shout turned down when Craig Noone's cross hit Nacho Monreal in the arm.

With Bendtner on in place of Podolski the Gunners finally upped the tempo and almost took the lead when Wilshere cut inside before striking a shot against the post.

Per Mertesacker then headed wide twice when unmarked before the deadlock was broken as Bendtner was quickest to react when David Marshall saved Bacary Sagna's header, the Dane firing home with just two minutes remaining before immediately going off injured.

The victory was sealed as Walcott calmly chipped over Marshall after latching on to Wilshere's flicked through ball.

For a gallery of images from Wednesday's Premier League games please go to the BBC Sport Facebook page.  

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger:

"We needed to be patient against a very good Cardiff side. They did work absolutely hard, their new manager was in the stands. They deserve credit and were a bit unfortunate to lose in the end.

"I think we were mature, intelligent and resilient. I felt in the first half it took us a while to get in our stride and our pace was a bit slow. We did all right in the second half but didn't take our chances and they defended very well.

"We know we have to play 10 home games and we want to make this place a fortress and take the points no matter what the others do.

"If we can manage to do that we will be in a very strong position."

Cardiff city caretaker manager David Kerslake:

"The players have given their all and I thought they had done enough to get a draw. We knew we would be good enough to soak the pressure, not a lot of teams can do that."

On Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being in stands: "I'm not even sure how much the players knew. They are very professional boys and gave it their best.

"If I was a gambling man I would say yes, it will be my last game in charge. I am contracted to the club and until the owners and chairman say so that is the case.

"I have 100% belief this squad are good enough to stay in the Premier League."

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (6)

Arsenal

  • 01 Szczesny
  • 03 Sagna
  • 17 Monreal
  • 20 Flamini (Vermaelen - 65' )
  • 04 Mertesacker Booked
  • 06 Koscielny
  • 14 Walcott
  • 08 Arteta
  • 09 Podolski (Bendtner - 64' )
  • 10 Wilshere
  • 19 Cazorla

Substitutes

  • 05 Vermaelen
  • 07 Rosicky
  • 21 Fabianski
  • 23 Bendtner (Vermaelen - 90' )
  • 25 Jenkinson
  • 31 Miyaichi
  • 44 Gnabry

Cardiff City

  • 01 Marshall Booked
  • 25 McNaughton
  • 42 John
  • 08 Medel (Gunnarsson - 61' )
  • 04 Caulker
  • 06 Turner Booked
  • 16 Noone
  • 13 Kim Bo-kyung
  • 10 Campbell (Maynard - 80' )
  • 18 Mutch (Cowie - 67' )
  • 07 Whittingham

Substitutes

  • 05 Hudson
  • 09 Cornelius
  • 14 Smith
  • 17 Gunnarsson
  • 19 Cowie
  • 23 Maynard
  • 32 Lewis
Ref: Jonathan Moss
Att: 60,004

Match Stats

Shots

28 8

On target

6 2

Corners

12 2

Fouls

6 11

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Arsenal 2, Cardiff City 0.

90:00 +5:09 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Arsenal 2, Cardiff City 0.

90:00 +4:11

Attempt saved. Steven Caulker (Cardiff City) right footed shot from very close range is saved in the centre of the goal.

90:00 +3:47

Foul by Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal).

90:00 +3:47

Declan John (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

90:00 +1:17 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Arsenal 2, Cardiff City 0. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jack Wilshere with a through ball.

90:00 +0:40

Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90:00 +0:40

Foul by Nicky Maynard (Cardiff City).

89:30 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Thomas Vermaelen replaces Nicklas Bendtner because of an injury.

89:01

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

88:45

Delay in match Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal) because of an injury.

87:38 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Arsenal 1, Cardiff City 0. Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box to the high centre of the goal.

87:37

Attempt saved. Bacary Sagna (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

86:33

Offside, Arsenal. Tomas Rosicky tries a through ball, but Nicklas Bendtner is caught offside.

86:21

Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

86:21

Foul by Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City).

85:27

Attempt missed. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Nicklas Bendtner.

84:24

Attempt saved. Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Mikel Arteta.

83:11

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Aron Gunnarsson.

83:07

Attempt blocked. Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Santiago Cazorla with a cross.

82:49

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by David Marshall.

82:27

Attempt missed. Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal) header from very close range misses to the left. Assisted by Theo Walcott with a cross.

81:47

Attempt blocked. Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jack Wilshere.

81:16

Attempt missed. Steven Caulker (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

80:24

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Laurent Koscielny.

80:17

Attempt blocked. Nicky Maynard (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

79:43

Attempt missed. Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Don Cowie.

79:16 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Cardiff City. Nicky Maynard replaces Fraizer Campbell.

75:53

Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

75:53

Foul by Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City).

74:59

Attempt missed. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high from a direct free kick.

74:15

Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

74:15

Foul by Craig Noone (Cardiff City).

71:43

Attempt saved. Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Tomas Rosicky.

69:54

Attempt missed. Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

69:13

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Fraizer Campbell.

69:10

Attempt blocked. Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Theo Walcott with a cross.

68:50

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Declan John.

67:58

Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) hits the left post with a header from the centre of the box. Assisted by Theo Walcott with a cross following a corner.

67:40

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Ben Turner.

67:06 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Cardiff City. Don Cowie replaces Jordon Mutch because of an injury.

66:25

Attempt missed. Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Theo Walcott with a cross following a corner.

66:16

Attempt blocked. Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Theo Walcott with a cross.

66:10

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

65:24

Delay in match Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City) because of an injury.

65:01

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Declan John.

64:12 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Tomas Rosicky replaces Mathieu Flamini.

64:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Nicklas Bendtner replaces Lukas Podolski.

63:29

Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) hits the left post with a left footed shot from the left side of the box. Assisted by Nacho Monreal.

60:33 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Cardiff City. Aron Gunnarsson replaces Gary Medel.

59:43

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Wojciech Szczesny.

59:15 Booking

Booking David Marshall (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card.

58:42

Foul by Mikel Arteta (Arsenal).

58:42

Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

57:06

Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

57:06

Foul by Gary Medel (Cardiff City).

56:14

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Jordon Mutch.

55:53

Attempt missed. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left following a corner.

55:32

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Kevin McNaughton.

54:14 Booking

Booking Ben Turner (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

54:06

Theo Walcott (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

54:06

Foul by Ben Turner (Cardiff City).

52:49

Attempt saved. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Laurent Koscielny with a headed pass.

52:23

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Steven Caulker.

52:20

Attempt blocked. Lukas Podolski (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Nacho Monreal.

50:44

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Steven Caulker.

49:13

Attempt missed. Bacary Sagna (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

46:56

Attempt blocked. Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Declan John.

45:00

Second Half begins Arsenal 0, Cardiff City 0.

45:00 +2:05 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Arsenal 0, Cardiff City 0.

45:00 +1:01

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Kim Bo-Kyung.

43:58

Foul by Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal).

43:58

Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

43:02

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Steven Caulker.

42:58

Attempt blocked. Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jack Wilshere.

41:59

Offside, Cardiff City. Ben Turner tries a through ball, but Fraizer Campbell is caught offside.

41:29

Attempt missed. Craig Noone (Cardiff City) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Fraizer Campbell.

39:01

Attempt blocked. Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fraizer Campbell.

33:45

Foul by Theo Walcott (Arsenal).

33:45

Declan John (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

33:29

Attempt blocked. Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Theo Walcott.

32:07

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

31:42

Delay in match Craig Noone (Cardiff City) because of an injury.

30:43

Mikel Arteta (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

30:43

Foul by Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City).

30:07

Attempt missed. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Santiago Cazorla.

29:07

Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

29:07

Foul by Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City).

27:45 Booking

Booking Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

27:24

Attempt saved. Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the bottom right corner.

27:08

Attempt missed. Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Mathieu Flamini.

25:22

Attempt missed. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Mikel Arteta.

23:34

Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

23:34

Foul by Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City).

17:18

Attempt missed. Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jack Wilshere.

15:04

Attempt blocked. Bacary Sagna (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

14:01

Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

14:01

Foul by Gary Medel (Cardiff City).

12:54

Attempt missed. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Jack Wilshere with a cross.

11:49

Offside, Cardiff City. Jordon Mutch tries a through ball, but Fraizer Campbell is caught offside.

9:20

Offside, Cardiff City. Peter Whittingham tries a through ball, but Ben Turner is caught offside.

8:54

Foul by Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal).

8:54

Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

8:11

Offside, Arsenal. Mikel Arteta tries a through ball, but Theo Walcott is caught offside.

7:42

Lukas Podolski (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

7:42

Foul by Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City).

3:53

Offside, Arsenal. Jack Wilshere tries a through ball, but Theo Walcott is caught offside.

2:05

Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

2:05

Foul by Mikel Arteta (Arsenal).

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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