Solskjaer, the current coach of Norwegian club Molde, watched the game from the stands at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium in north London alongside Cardiff owner Vincent Tan.

Cardiff, promoted from the Championship last season, have been without a manager since Malky Mackay was sacked on December 27 after his relationship with Tan broke down.

Cardiff caretaker manager David Kerslake, formerly Mackay's assistant, said that the players were unaware of Solskjaer's presence.

"I'm not even sure how much the players knew. They are very professional boys and gave it their best," he said.

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

Premier League leaders Arsenal prevailed through late goals from Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott to leave Cardiff one place and one point above the relegation zone.

Solskjaer, 40, spent 11 years at United after signing from Molde in 1996, notably scoring a famous injury-time winner against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final in Barcelona.

He joined United's coaching staff after retiring in 2007 and was appointed manager of Molde in 2010, leading the club to glory in the Norwegian top flight in 2011 and 2012 and the Norwegian Cup in 2013.