City took the lead inside three minutes, with Gabriel Jesus inexplicably given the freedom of the six-yard box to head home, and they never really looked back from there.
It was, in Arteta’s own words, “a really soft goal” and it set the tone for the night. Arsenal briefly rallied before half-time, equalising after good work from Gabriel Martinelli saw Alexandre Lacazette score, but City pressed on the accelerator after the break to take control again.
Alex Runarsson allowed Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick to squirm through his fingers, Phil Foden dinked him for the third (although replays showed he was offside) and Aymeric Laporte added a fourth after yet more poor marking.
The defender was able to stroll into the six-yard box unmarked to head home from a cross, but even more alarming was the fact there was another City player behind him who could have done the honours too.
“We scored a goal, a really good goal and after that I think that we were the better team for the next 25 minutes,” said Arteta.
“But when we had the best moments in the game, we conceded another soft goal and that makes it even harder.”
Indeed it was the manner of City’s goals on Tuesday that will be a big frustration for Arteta. As he put it, they were soft and Arsenal cannot afford be to conceding goals like that at a time like this.
Arteta passionately said on Monday he needs fighters and not victims right now, but against City he got the latter. That was summed up by the fact City midfielder Fernandinho made eight tackles during the match – more than the entire Arsenal team managed combined.
That is not good enough for Arsenal right now, who are 15th in the Premier League and just four points above the relegation places.
They are now due to face Chelsea, Brighton and West Brom in the space of eight days and if they are to get something from those games they need to fight and scrap. That is the minimum requirement for teams who find themselves at the wrong end of the table.
And if Arteta is to mount a resurgence, it feels as though the young players at Arsenal will be the ones to lead it.
It says a lot about where the club are right now that pressure is resting on teenager Gabriel Martinelli to turn things around after returning from a serious knee injury.
But the Brazilian brings energy and hunger, something Arsenal have severely lacked this season, and his work rate in the first-half saw him setup Lacazette with a brilliant cross.
“He brings that enthusiasm that the fans can see because he’s got something special, a special energy every time he steps on that field,” said Arteta.
Arteta needs that to rub off on other players – and fast. The Spaniard has been publicly backed by the Arsenal hierarchy, but at the end of the day results must change soon. If not, Arteta will have to give up fighting and become the victim.