There were moments where the Pole did not have much to do but would then spring in to action and, like all good goalkeepers, maintained concentration to thwart occasional Cardiff chances, like in the 28th minute when he denied Jordan Mutch.
Bacary Sagna - 7
Bizarrely on free kick duty when Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta (who were primary dead ball dispatchers at Malaga and Everton respectively) were both on the pitch. Had the initial header that was blocked which allowed Nicklas Bendtner to pounce and stick a foot in for Arsenal's first.
Per Mertesacker - 8
Provided good headed clearances, as the big German was one of two Gunners on the pitch over 6-foot tall against a side aware they may benefit from lofted balls. Also spells early in second half where Per was the clear attacking threat from the home team. Had a free header on the 66th minute mark but his shot was wide. Two minutes later, he missed another golden opportunity to break the deadlock.
His football intelligence was highlighted by his ability to pass the ball and build possession from defence. Was one of the most useful footballers on the pitch in the first half.
Nacho Monreal - 7
Blocked opposition cross attempts, appreciated space down the left flank and floated his own good crosses into the box - no more so effective than a late one right at the match's death which resulted in a Gunners goal.
Mikel Arteta - 6
Did not have the best of games by his own standards. He appeared fatigued and slow to react.
Mathieu Flamini - 7
Before the game, Flamini spoke of the team's need to fight… for every ball, in every game, much like the great Arsenal teams of yesteryear. His statistics in the first half were commendable - 95% passing accuracy, 100% long ball accuracy, three headers won and 100% successful clearances, but was replaced by Tomas Rosicky on the hour mark.
Jack Wilshere - 9
The clear man of the match. Where Arsenal were at their creative best, it was Wilshere who was in the middle of the plays. His ability to dribble his way into a threatening position was continually underlined throughout the game, he had good efforts on goal and deserved the bottle of bubbly. Assisted Walcott superbly with a deft touch with his left boot to put the match out of Cardiff's reach.
Theo Walcott - 9
Energetic start, made intelligent runs. His delivery from wide was on point, as Mertesacker could not have asked for greater accuracy for a 66th minute cross that, perhaps, should have at least tested the Cardiff City goalkeeper had it not bust the net. Aside from Wilshere, Walcott was Arsenal's best chance creator. Doubled Arsenal's lead with a magic lob moments from the final whistle.
Santi Cazorla - 7
Terrific work from wide where he sold a move to McNaughton early on but polarised fans on social media for having the bulk of his shots blocked. In all, though, he put in a good shift.
Lukas Podolski - 6
If ever there was evidence that the German international would be better suited to a left forward's role, with Walcott played centrally, then this afternoon was it, as the Englishman produced more in a matter of minutes than Podolski did the entire game.
Substitutes: Nicklas Bendtner - 8, Tomas Rosicky - 8, Thomas Vermaelen - n/a.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald