Mikel Arteta has admitted that his Arsenal team must develop a nastiness if they are to compete for the top trophies in domestic and European football.

The Gunners were criticised for not being streetwise enough in their 1-0 Champions League defeat to Porto in midweek. The loss was blighted by consistent fouling with referee Serdar Gozukbuyuk awarding 36 fouls across the course of the night – the most in any game in the competition this season.

Speaking after the game on Wednesday, Arteta admitted that his side would have to learn quickly in order to overcome the deficit in the return leg in three weeks time. It is not just in the Champions League that they’ve faced this issue, though.

Last season, in their 0-0 draw with Newcastle United at the Emirates, Arsenal were frustrated by their visitors’ timewasting tactics which saw the ball in play for just 51 minutes across the course of the match. With Eddie Howe’s side returning to the Emirates this weekend, the focus will be on the Gunners in what is already likely to be an emotionally-heightened game following November’s tetchy affair at St. James’ Park.

Speaking ahead of the game, Arteta admitted the nasty streak that Newcastle have showed in recent matches is not something Arsenal have necessary possessed in years gone by and claimed that his side would need to find it if they were to reach the top.

“Overall when you build a squad you need that (nastiness) certainly, but it comes,” he told reporters at the Sobha Realty training centre. “Sometimes it comes from the culture of the club. You see that there are clubs that have that in their DNA. It is not something that you would directly link with Arsenal, that’s for sure, but it is something that has to be developed.

“It’s very important. That’s a way of competing for a team, you know. And you can tell that the best players in the world have the ability to take advantage – always.”

Arteta himself has had no issue exhibiting an edge on the touchline. His behaviour in the technical area came under scrutiny following last year’s stalemate at the Emirates, and he has admitted that he is attempting to instil some of that competitive edge into his players.

“There are ways to do it,” he said with a knowing smile when asked how this could be done. “It is the way you talk to them, showing them clips, training – putting them through scenarios, provoking them a few times as well, learning from other players who do it really well and from teams who are masters at it. There are ways to do it.”

For all their critics, though, Arsenal have shown themselves to be more than capable of standing up to physical battles in recent seasons. Arteta was also keen to highlight this and focus on the strengths his side possess as they seek to gain ground in the title race on Liverpool, who are in Carabao Cup final action against Chelsea this weekend.

“When we played Liverpool at home or Man City, you guys said it is incredible how they compete, how aggressive they are, this and that,” he said. “We have many other things and a lot of other clubs don’t have what we do. You want to have the best of the best – that’s the aim.”

“They are incredible players, that is for sure. I think this team has got enough intelligence and enough experience to deal with many situations.”