It’s been a feast or famine season for Mikel Arteta’s side who, after bucking a near two-month winless run on Boxing Day, started a hot streak of four Premier League victories from five games.
But that trend has reversed since winning 3-0 at home to Newcastle a month ago and with a point against Manchester United being followed by defeats at Wolves and Aston Villa, they are slipping down to mid-table again.
So after seemingly solving the puzzle, why is Arteta again trying to get Arsenal back to winning ways? Sportsmail looks at the five key factors behind the Gunners’ latest slump.
Arsenal have won just once in their last five games across all competitions this season
Mikel Arteta will be hoping his side return to form when they host Leeds United on Sunday
The loss of Tierney
If there is one position Arsenal cannot afford to have an injury at then it is at left-back, especially after allowing back up players Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles to leave the club in January.
So of course barely days after the duo depart, first choice Kieran Tierney picked up a knee injury that in total will rule him out for just over a month.
Tierney’s absence coincides with the start of Arsenal’s poor form which began with a 1-0 FA Cup loss at Southampton and after a Premier League victory at St Mary’s a few days later continued in the goalless draw with United and the aforementioned back-to-back losses.
Taking his place has been Cedric Soares, deemed surplus by Southampton even in his preferred role at right-back last year, and now playing as emergency cover on the opposite flank at the Emirates Stadium. Hardly ideal.
He was at fault for Aston Villa’s second minute winner at Villa Park and lacks the attacking threat from the left offered by Tierney who is set to return in the next week.
Arsenal have lost much attacking influence on the left-flank through full-back Kieran Tierney
The kids are alright (but inconsistent)
‘You never win anything with kids’. It’s the infamous quote that former pundit Alan Hansen will always have jibed at him after he wrote off a young Manchester United team who went on to win the double in 1996.
Yet, he had a point. Part of Arsenal’s revival in recent months has been ditching the high earning big name creative players such as Mesut Ozil and Willian and relying more on the highly promising youthful talent such as Bukayo Saka, Emile-Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli.
However while their enthusiasm has brought results, young players tend to be prone to lapses in form and right now the likes of Smith-Rowe are struggling to hit the same heights they did after breaking into the team.
Partly it can be down to form and lacking the experience to find a rhythm while opponents can also exploit weaknesses identified in a player’s game once they have enough data to scout.
The good news long term is that can be ironed out, but that is of no help to Arsenal right now who despite seeing much of the ball in the 1-0 defeat at Villa Park barely troubled Dean Smith’s side in an attacking sense with Smith-Rowe struggling to influence proceedings.
Emile Smith-Rowe is a highly promising talent for Arsenal but has been inconsistent
Out of form strikers
And that takes us on to the striker problem at the Emirates Stadium. Despite boasting a £100million striking duo of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, goals have been a problem for both this term.
Lacazette may be top scorer with a respectful amount of eight at this stage of the campaign, but you don’t spend £50million for just an average return.
The France striker has been preferred in attack recently yet has just one league goal to his name since the very start of January.
No other player has more than five goals to their name and that includes Aubameyang who is having a torrid season since signing a new contract at the start of the campaign.
The striker has just two league goals in the last two months and it has left the Gunners without much ammo.
Youngster Gabriel Martinelli has shown promise during his time at the club but is suffering a torrid year following a knee injury that kept him out for much of the first part of the season.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) and Alexandre Lacazette have struggled for goals
Arsenal’s business in the transfer market recently has done little to help bolster their first-team. The only thing that has grown out of their activity is the wage bill and the need for the treatment table at the club.
Thomas Partey has performed well enough to claim a place in the side but rarely sees a match out due to fitness issues.
In a season which has seen him miss six games due to a hip injury, he has only completed 90 minutes three times across nine starts, and he limped off in the defeat at Villa last time out.
In addition, fellow summer arrivals Willian and Gabriel have gone off the boil following promising starts with the latter only recently coming back into the first team after picking up the coronavirus around the Christmas period.
Loan signing Martin Odegaard is still finding his feet at the club after joining from Real Madrid at the end of January but missed an excellent opportunity to equalise at Villa when he came on the pitch for the final 25 minutes.
Thomas Partey has suffered a range of fitness problems since signing for Arsenal last year
Perhaps most frustratingly of all, the points being dropped by Arteta are by factors he can have little influence over – individual errors.
Arsenal were in control of their match at Wolves, leading 1-0, before David Luiz’s red card on the stroke of half-time saw the hosts draw level then take the lead in the second half.
Another red card later on for keeper Bernd Leno killed off the Gunners’ hopes of getting back into the game.
In the second of their defeats, Cedric Soares’ poor pass allowed Villa to take an early lead but the game at Villa Park was an otherwise an even affair which the hosts only managed to edge.
The third of these losses among the last five games came in the FA Cup with a slightly weakened team, it puts a new perspective on the Gunners’ current run.
Fine margins have cost them at crucial moments in games they could have also quite easily have taken three points with a bit more luck or by fielding a full strength side.
David Luiz reacts after being sent off in Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers