“If we play 4-3-3 the way we played the first 20 minutes, we win the games,” said Arteta ahead of Friday’s match against Aston Villa.

“But if we start to play the way we played the following 20 minutes, it doesn’t work, because again, that is a transition game and we don’t have the players to do that when we play in that formation.”

He had earlier lamented: “After scoring the goal, and after hitting the level of performance that we hit after the first part of the game, just make sure that we go for the second goal and continue to play with the same fluidity, the same intention that we are going to start to defend something that we have earned because the game is really long and we have to do that for longer periods of the game.”

The original game plan went out of the window midway through the second half. Having fallen 2-1 behind, Arteta decided to chuck the kitchen sink at the Eagles. On came Gabriel Martinelli and Alex Lacazette and the bravery was rewarded courtesy of the latter’s last-gasp equaliser.

“The play in the last 20 minutes is something that we haven’t done a lot as well, but it worked because we generated what we wanted,” said Arteta. “We have to be flexible and we have to play players in their strengths and when they are not playing.”

Following comments by Jurgen Klopp about Liverpool’s ‘dirty’ win over Atletico Madrid, it was put to Mikel Arteta that his side also needs to get in the groove of winning even when they don’t play well.

“My focus is to win and play well, and this is what we have to do,” he said. “When we were playing well, and in the phases that we were playing well we dominated the game. We generated the chances, and we deserved to win the game.

“The issues come when we don’t start to do that. But when you do that you have to show enough resilience and know-how to manage those situations; like we had to do against Brighton in certain moments, and still be able to win the match.

“Sometimes individuals actions, [such as] a set piece helps you to do that. Of course, it’s another way of winning, and it has to be present in the way the team acts and thinks.”

Arteta’s players will certainly have their work cut out tomorrow when Aston Villa visit the Emirates.

The Villans have won their last three Premier League meetings against us, as many as they had in their previous 36 (W3 D9 L24). They last won four consecutive league matches against the Gunners in September 1962. Thanks to Opta for the stats.