Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette's burgeoning strike partnership came to the rescue as Arsenal eventually shook off Cardiff City to claim a 3-2 win in the Welsh capital.
Shkodran Mustafi headed the visitors into an 11th-minute lead before Neil Warnock's side averted a seventh consecutive goalless half in the top flight this season when Victor Camarasa pounced in stoppage time.
Unai Emery brought Mesut Ozil and Lacazette into his XI and both were involved in Aubameyang's brilliant 62nd-minute goal, only for Danny Ward to find a swift response.
Lacazette was harshly adjudged to have fouled Harry Arter for the free-kick that led to Ward's leveller but the French striker had the last laugh on his first start of the campaign, darting around Sol Bamba and blasting beyond Neil Etheridge at the Cardiff goalkeeper's near post.
Cardiff rued Arter firing over after Petr Cech passed the ball straight to him in the eighth minute, with Mustafi allowed space to power in Granit Xhaka's corner.
Etheridge was out quickly to prevent Nacho Monreal from doubling Arsenal's lead and Lacazette sent a low shot skidding against the base of the post.
Camarasa was fortunate to see the ball fall his way, having failed to control Joe Bennett's cross, but steered home unerringly.
A frequently scrappy encounter enjoyed a moment of stunning quality after the hour and all Arsenal's star attackers were involved.
Lacazette flicked Ozil's pass into Aubameyang's path and the ex-Borussia Dortmund star curled a wonderful effort across Etheridge from 25 yards.
It was not enough to dissuade Cardiff, however, and Ward expertly guided Sean Morrison's header back across goal in off the post with 20 minutes to play.
Bobby Reid lost his footing when an improbable Cardiff victory beckoned; Lacazette had no such troubles on the end of substitute Lucas Torreira's 81st-minute pass.
Full-time score: Cardiff 2-3 Arsenal
Play closes, fittingly, with Lacazette on the attack. The whistle goes and Arsenal have their first away win of the season. Cardiff scored their first goals and fought devilishly, but the class of Lacazette was the difference between the teams.
90 mins+4: Granit Xhaka concedes a free-kick but this time Ralls’ delivery is faulty. Morrison, the usual target, cannot reach the ball.
90 mins: Harry Arter collects his requisite booking, his third in three matches, with a hacking foul on Torreira.
90 mins: Close for Cardiff! Was that the chance? Morrison’s header finds Madine, and Cech scampers out on safari, and is way out of position when Madine’s cross is launched in. Zohore heads over, he couldn’t keep it down.
89 mins: Manga wins a free-kick after a foul from Monreal. There will be four minutes of added time.
88 mins: Final change for both teams. Aubameyang comes off and Mkhitaryan comes on. Mkhki comes on to add defensive ballast, no doubt. Meanwhile, Gary Madine replaces Camarasa for Cardiff.
86 mins: Taking into consideration Arsenal’s defending, Cardiff will probably get one more chance. How soon can they find it? Arsenal are content to try and see this out by passing their opponent to death.
85 mins: Dogged play by Ralls and Hoilett means Cardiff eventually get the ball into the area when Bennett swings one in. Cech collects and Arsenal play a little bit of keep ball.
84 mins: Both teams make changes. Danny Welbeck comes on for Ozil, who leaves the field very slowly indeed. And Danny Ward comes off for Kenneth Zohore.
82 mins: Lacazette has been excellent today, in linking play and hunting down chances for himself. He has worked very hard, which is in contrast for some of his team-mates.
Cardiff 2-3 Arsenal (Lacazette, 81)
What a goal! A short pass from Torreira and Lacazette spins and drills a shot into the roof of the net.
78 mins: An opening for Cardiff. Bobby Reid finds space as Ward and Arter set him away. The shot, though, is a little tired, not enough to test Cech.
76 mins: Nasty foul from Camarasa on Sokratis. He gets a yellow when it was more an orange. The studs were not quite up.
75 mins: Another Arsenal corner is cleared, though hurriedly by Cardiff, who themselves don’t look too easy under the set piece.
73 mins: Arsenal have resumed their dominance of possession, and Lacazette goes close from a corner. Mustafi charges in, and hurts Etheridge in the process which means a delay in play. That allows a chance to watch the statuesque defending from Arsenal.
72 mins: Anyway, the secret is out: Arsenal are weak at set pieces. Oh, you knew that already? Well, it’s yet to change under the new boss.
71 mins: That goal celebrated in finest dad-dancing style by Neil Warnock. Arsenal makes a sub, bringing off Guendouzi and putting on Torreira. Was that a decision made with the goal in mind?
Goal! Cardiff 2-2 Arsenal (Ward, 70)
Arter wins a free-kick. Joe Ralls dinks out to Sean Morrison, who nods it back across goal, and Danny Ward’s header is superb.
67 mins: A snap shot from Harry Arter wins a corner. Another one comes after Xhaka heads behind. A handball shout as Camarasa’s pass is deflected away.
66 mins: Özil concedes a cheap free-kick for a lazy foul on Bennett. The ball is boomed in and Sokratis is very lucky not to be penalised for being all over Danny Ward.
64 mins: Arsenal’s pressure told there, and it was a sublime piece of skill and finishing that took them into the lead. In attacking terms, they are streets ahead of Cardiff. Can the rest of the team hold firm? Granit Xhaka reminds of his continuing presence by becoming the fourth Arsenal player to be booked.
Goal! Cardiff 1-2 Arsenal (Aubameyang, 63)
Great link-up play by the outstanding Lacazette, whose flick is into his partner’s path and the finish, with Özil making a run into what looked a good position, is superb. It arrowed in.
61 mins: Graham from Reigate emails in: “Four games in now and “Emery” insists on playing Xhaxa despite his suicidal passing and lack of tracking back, and Cech despite him not fitting Arsenal’s new style of play. Meanwhile, the two new signings in which he was involved (and which Wenger would never have sanctioned) - Torreira and Leno - sit on the bench. When the opposition fans sing “are you Wenger in disguise” I think they may be in to something and the real Emery is hostage somewhere.”
60 mins: Charles Antaka emails in: “Yes, Xhaka’s pass was woeful. But there is a contributing factor, which has been true all match so far: he and Guendouzi too often find themselves disconnected from those in front *and* those behind them; quite a feat on a normal-sized football pitch.”
59 mins: Hoilett tries a long shot that comes to naught. Cardiff able to concert a little more pressure.
57 mins: Ward makes a fine run down the right flank, cutting in and shooting. It goes wide. The referee turns back to book Guendouzi for a foul on Camarasa. A third Arsenal booking and Sokratis is lucky not to be added after he pulls a shirt.
56 mins: Arsenal are now dominating possession as Cardiff sit back. The home team having to resort to last-ditch stuff. Another corner is taken by Xhaka and is cleared by Hoilett but Bobby Reid is outnumbered.
54 mins: Oddly, Arsenal look more dangerous at set pieces, though are now beginning to find spaces to attack.
52 mins: Özil, at last, gets involved. Lovely pass to Monreal, who has been prominent, and Cardiff can only clear desperately. Xhaka takes the corner. And Mustafi got it again, but this time Neil Etheridge makes a save after it bounces up.
49 mins: Bellerin is booked for what was a completely blatant handball; essentially he stopped it rolling on as he fell to the ground. Both Arsenal full-back have now been booked.
48 mins: Monreal gets down the left, and as Lacazette lurks with intent, Morrison clears. From the resultant corner, Lacazette almost gets a chance to score but the bounce of the ball just evades his wingspan.
47 mins: Cardiff have again begun the brighter, as if their manager has put a flea in their ear, which was almost certainly the case.
46 mins: The beginning of this half is a carbon copy of the first. Cech dithers over a back pass and that forces a chance. Hoilett slashes wide.
Second half starts
With no substitutions from either team. Which goes against recent practice from Unai Emery.
That’s a fair scoreline. Arsenal pay the price for slacking off, and some loose play for the usual suspects. If Cardiff had a little more quality, then Arsenal might actually be in big trouble. Both sides giving up chances and that makes for a decent contest.
Goal! Cardiff 1-1 Arsenal (Camarasa, 45 plus 2)
The wait is over for a Cardiff goal! Xhaka plays an utterly hopeless crossfield ball. Cardiff collect it, Joe Bennett crosses in, and Camarasa shows coolness and precision in cutting in to lash home.
45 mins: Another chance for Arter. Morrison’s strength gets the ball flicked down and Arter’s shot is wild. Like that earlier chance, he got a little too excited.
43 mins: Harry Arter has recovered; he hares around, chasing Arsenal players as they attempt to build from the back. Meanwhile, Neil Warnock shares a joke with the fourth official. He can be nice like that.
42 mins: But Cardiff step it up. Hoilett whips in a ball from the left-hand side, and Danny Ward cannot get to it. He looked to have been blocked.
41 mins: Cardiff’s energy of the opening moments has calmed a little, much to Cech’s relief. The home crowd also a little quiet.
40 mins: Harry Arter, the reluctant Irishman according to reports, has taken a bang to his knee after a clash with Aaron Ramsey. A bit of ice and spray and he seems OK for now.
38 mins: Xhaka fell over, to jeers, but recovered well and plays his part in an extended passage of possession. Özil gets into the box, but there are too many bodies for even him to find a pass.
37 mins: Cardiff carve out a decent move in which Ralls is prominent, but his long “diag” is claimed by Cech, who looks far happier now he is not being asked to play like Matthias Sammer.
35 mins: Both teams here have definite problems in defence. Cardiff’s problem is quality, while Arsenal suffer from a lack of protection and a litany of mistakes.
34 mins: Arsenal on the break again, but Lacazette cannot link up with Özil thanks to supreme covering work from Bennett.
32 mins: Lacazette hits the post! Another free-kick for Arsenal after Ramsey is fouled. As Arsenal claim the second ball, the Frenchman bursts to the right of the area, and Bellerin’s dummy run to his flank buys him time. A decent, low shot had Etheridge beaten.
30 mins: Sokratis squeals in pain. He took a whack from Harry Arter. But not that much of a whack. Arsenal again looking to accentuate the rough stuff.
28 mins: Two good chances for Cardiff. Özil lets Joe Bennett go, and the cross into the middle is just beyond Reid. Then Hoilett aims in a shot. Cardiff lack a clinical touch, it has to be said.
27 mins: Xhaka has his chance to take a trademark long shot. It goes wide. Unsurprisingly.
25 mins: Guendouzi is dropping back very deep, playing almost as a third centre-back as Arsenal try to calm things down with some careful passing. The crowd does seem a little tenderized, too.
23 mins: Neil Warnock is not happy. “There’s two sides involved, Anthony,” he can be heard to say, as a decision goes against his team. It has to be said that Arsenal are making perhaps a little bit more than is necessary after some heavy challenges. Nacho Monreal is booked for a high kick on Reid.
22 mins: One pattern of play worth mentioning is that Arsenal are not quite dominating possession as before. That’s a result of Cardiff’s hustle and what looks a more direct style of play.
20 mins: Arsenal have another corner, from the same left-hand side as before but Cardiff clear it this time. Reid attempts to escape on the counter before a rather cynical foul from Bellerin.
18 mins: Cardiff go close! Mustafi gets caught out. Ward almost gets on the end of a Bobby Reid cross and then Junior Hoilett’s shot pings wide. Mustafi had let Reid go; a reminder of his shortcomings as a defender.
15 mins: The corner for the goal, by the way, was delivered by Xhaka. He and Mustafi are two late-period Wenger signings who rather define the decline of the former boss.
14 mins: Cardiff rueing that Harry Arter failed to make more of that chance. He could have passed to Reid. Meanwhile, their defence is faulty. Manga makes a mess in the box and Monreal would have scored had Etheridge not bailed out his defender.
13 mins: Cardiff really need that first goal of the season now. Arsenal fans, in full voice, sing a jokey song about winning away, unlike last season. Again, Monsieur Wenger’s ears must be burning.
Goal! Cardiff 0-1 Arsenal (Mustafi, 12)
Arsenal win a corner, and Mustafi surging on to the ball, beats Sol Bamba and nods in. A fierce header, though Neil Warnock will be raging about conceding from a set piece.
10 mins: This is more end to end stuf than expected. Cardiff have been conservative but they are pressing from the front. Cech looks their best chance of success.
9 mins: A great chance for Arsenal! Ramsey’s shot is saved by Etheridge and the follow-up is fired wide by Lacazette.
7 mins: A golden chance! And it came from more Cech discomfort. Monreal plays it to Cech whose kick out is horrendous. For a brief moment, Harry Arter had an open net but Xhaka, rather uncharacteristically, tackled back well.
5 mins: Lacazette is holding his face, and suggests that Sean Morrison dealt the blow in the penalty area. He receives little sympathy from ref Anthony Taylor.
4 mins: The Leno question has to be asked when Cech looks as uncomfortable on the ball as he has so far. At the other end, Neil Etheridge suffers similarly, and concedes a corner that Cardiff get away.
3 mins: Free-kick chance for Cardiff. Joe Rawls smashes it in but an infringement means a free-kick goes Arsenal’s way.
2 mins: The pattern of play is set as Arsenal play a passing game and the home team sit back. As soon as Cardiff get the ball, it is punted long for Ward to chase.
Away we go!
1 min: The kickoff is taken to a chorus of boos. And then Petr Cech almost does an Allison Becker as Bobby Reid presses him. No Cruyff turn, though, but as Danny Ward charges in for the goalkeeper’s next touch it is made clear that the Warnock dossier includes putting Cech’s footballing skills to the test.
The players are in the tunnel now, with Petr Cech’s skullcap to the fore. How long will he remain in the starting line-up? Arsenal didn’t spend £19m on Bernd Leno for him to be a glorified Rhys Wilmot.
Unai Emery speaks.
On the benched Henrikh Mkhitaryan:
“For us he is a very important player.”
On Lacazette and AAubameyang:
“In the position, we will work the two players, the combination, today they are going to start. We want to keep our strikers on the pitch, they have the individual skills to make the difference.”
On Alex Iwobi, missing from the squad
“He has illness for today.”
“The opposition, they want to go against us and we hope we can do this attacking moment, our capacity to impose this style to win this match.”
A reminder that Cardiff are the only team of the 92 professional clubs not to have scored this season. And still they are two points clear of West Ham.
Emery’s going for it. Lacazette and Aubameyang and Özil for Arsenal. Mhki drops to the bench, and still not start for Torreira as that partnership of Guendouzi and Xhaka is persisted with. For Cardiff, there are three changes as Danny Ward, Junior Hoilett and Bobby Reid start in place of Kenneth Zohore, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Josh Murphy.
Here are the teams
Cardiff: Etheridge, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett, Arter, Victor Camarasa, Ralls, Hoilett, Reid, Ward.
Subs: Harris, Peltier, Zohore, Paterson, Cunningham, Madine, Brian Murphy.
Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Papastathopoulos, Monreal, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Subs: Elneny, Mkhitaryan, Torreira, Lichtsteiner, Holding, Leno, Welbeck.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)