Mikel Arteta dropped his guard when joking about two Arsenal players who played a major part in their comeback victory over Aston Villa, and revealed which opposition player he knew would be a “big concern”.
The Gunners returned to winning ways at Villa Park in a contest that had a little bit of everything. Arsenal twice fell behind to goals from Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho.
Bukayo Saka and Oleksandr Zinchenko pulled their side level with fantastic rifled strikes. However, when Martin Odegaard missed an open goal late on, it appeared Arteta’s side were destined to drop more points.
But deep into injury time their luck changed when a long-range Jorginho effort rebounded off the crossbar and into the net via the head of Emiliano Martinez.
The Argentine knew nothing about the unfortunate own goal, with the ball ricocheting off the back of his head after he’d already committed to a full-length dive.
Martinez aimed to make amends in the dying embers when going up for a corner. However, Arsenal broke away and Fabio Vieira picked out the right pass allowing Gabriel Martinelli to scamper away and tap home to secure a remarkable 4-2 victory.
Speaking to BT Sport after the match, Arteta said: “We showed a lot of character to get back twice in the game and end up winning it.
“We have to take lessons from today because especially in the first half, we didn’t do all the simple things right. We gave them a chance to score those two goals in a really simple way [Errors from Zinchenko and Ben White].
“We talked at half time, to raise the individual standards and if they start to do what they have to do we will win this game.”
When asked what went wrong in a nervy first five minutes, the Spaniard added: “We were completely open and leaving the left channel to Watkins one-v-one.
“We knew that was a big concern, he’s got the quality to do that [punish Arsenal]. They had two shots and scored two goals, so credit to them for that.
“But in the second half we [outplayed] them. We created chance after chance, dominated the game but needed a big moment and Jorginho produced it.”
Arteta lets guard down over Jorginho, Zinchenko
When asked by interviewer if Arteta had ever seen a goal like the winning one created by Jorginho, a beaming Arteta joked: “Especially not from him!
“He has many many qualities, but that [long-range shooting] isn’t his biggest strength.
Arteta went on to herald Jorginho’s impact in the continued absence of Thomas Partey before attention turned to Zinchenko’s first goal for the Gunners.
“It took him too long!” joked Arteta who couldn’t contain a wide grin.
“He’s been practising on that and I’m so happy for him because he obviously had a difficult action for the first goal when he gave the ball away, but he reacted very well.”