Arsene Wenger opted not to tell Jack Wilshere of his selection in the Arsenal starting XI until just prior to kick-off as the midfielder made his long-awaited return in a 1-0 win over QPR.
Wilshere's last league appearance for the Gunners came in May 2011 as he has since battled with knee and ankle problems. The 20-year-old, who was cheered upon receiving his first touch of the ball, played on for 67 minutes before being substituted by Theo Walcott.
Wenger was thrilled with Wilshere's return to the starting line-up, but revealed he kept the the England international guessing until the morning of the match.
"I made the decision without telling him because when you have not played for such long time it is not always easy to deal with that and there is a high level of expectation when he goes on the pitch," said Wenger.
"I told him he was playing at 10:30am today. Sometimes I think it is better when you don't have much time to think about it when you have been out for a long time.
"I also felt the confidence of the team was a bit jaded and sometimes players with experience and quality give a bit of a lift as well."
After taking on a combative QPR midfield of Samba Diakite and Esteban Granero, Wilshere will be rested for Arsenal's Capital One Cup clash against Reading midweek, but Wenger hinted he may start against Manchester United next weekend.
"You could see technically he is there, and he gave everything, but what is missing he will get through competition," said Wenger. "Jack still misses a bit of the pace of the game, the rhythm of the game, but overall what he did was class.
"We have to see how he responds. After such a long time out, it goes a bit up and down. What is good is that he got kicked today and had no problem. The rest will come with the games," he said.
"Now, after a game like that, I will certainly not play him on Tuesday [against Reading]. Will I play him [at Manchester United] next week? I don't know."
Since Wilshere last played in the Premier League, the Gunners have brought in the likes of Mikel Arteta - who scored the winner on Saturday - Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski, while Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri have departed to Barcelona and Manchester City respectively.
"It's great to be back, especially with the new team. Last time I played it was with Fabregas and Nasri and now there's Arteta and Cazorla so it's like a new team and a new me.
"It's been very tough for me, for any player who's been injured it's tough. Luckily for me I've got my family. I've got my son now who's helped me through it.
"You question yourself every day are you going to get back to that level? You have up days and you have down days.
"The fans have been great for me, they've been so positive. Even through the darkest times they really helped me," Wilshere said.