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Returning from a two-week hiatus with the intention of ending a three-game losing run, Arsenal are back in Premier League action on Saturday lunchtime, when London rivals Crystal Palace stop over at the Emirates.

The Gunners have been soaking up the Dubai sun since being dumped out of the FA Cup by Liverpool in the third round, while the Eagles are also reeling from a knockout defeat, losing their replay to Everton on Wednesday night.
From topping the Premier League table on Christmas Day to finding themselves at risk of dropping out of the top four entirely, Arsenal’s winter attacking woes have come to the fore throughout the festive period, and Mikel Arteta’s troops have now been punished for such alarming profligacy on more than one occasion.

After producing toothless attacking performances in successive top-flight defeats to West Ham United and Fulham, Arsenal passed up a surfeit of opportunities to draw first blood against Liverpool in the FA Cup, until Jakub Kiwior managed to make the net ripple in front of the Reds fans.

Unfortunately for the Pole, he sent the away end into elation as he inadvertently headed Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free kick into the net before Luis Diaz offered Arsenal a lesson in ruthlessness with a thunderous finish into the roof of the goal, leading Arteta to admit that his side may have developed a mental block when it comes to finishing chances.

Pleas from Gooners to splash the cash on a new number nine in January are likely to fall on deaf ears – unless an audacious loan move for Karim Benzema comes to fruition – leaving the onus on Arteta and co to pull fourth-placed Arsenal, who are only above Tottenham Hotspur on goal difference with a game in hand, out of their offensive rut.

With just one win to show from seven matches in all tournaments – and even then wasted chances nearly proved costly in a 2-0 beating of Brighton & Hove Albion – Arsenal have never endured a worse seven-game run under Arteta, and they have now lost their last two Premier League London derbies after going unbeaten in 17 capital clashes before that.

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