Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang inadvertently headed into his own net from a corner at Emirates Stadium after Granit Xhaka had been shown a straight red card for violent conduct after grabbing Clarets midfielder Ashley Westwood by the throat during a second-half flashpoint.
It is the first time since 1959 that Arsenal have lost four in a row at home in the league and a seventh defeat of the season already leaves them 15th in the table after 12 matches and only five points above the bottom three.
Arteta’s crisis-stricken side have now failed to win any of their past five league games, with only two victories in their last 10.
The Gunners made 10 changes from their 4-2 win over Dundalk in the Europa League, where Arteta’s side are flying, with Mohamed Elneny keeping his place in midfield due to the recurrence of Thomas Partey’s thigh injury.
They dominated the first half against a team that had failed to even score in their last three away trips and had mustered just one top-flight win all season before Sunday night, with Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka efforts blocked after Alexandre Lacazette was guilty of a miskick while trying to meet Willian’s knock down.
Burnley then wasted a glorious chance to take the lead as Robbie Brady’s pinpoint cross went wide off the shoulder of Chris Wood.
Hector Bellerin’s long-range effort was blocked and Rob Holding couldn’t aim a header on target before James Tarkowski executed a perfectly-timed sliding challenge in the box on Saka and Arsenal almost got caught out playing from the back, with Gabriel then heading Willian’s right-wing cross wide.
After a first 45 that certainly won’t live long in the memory, Arsenal stepped up the tempo after the interval, with Kieran Tierney, Aubameyang and Saka all testing England’s Nick Pope in the Burnley goal.
However, then came the turning point, with tempers flaring between Xhaka and the Burnley players as he picked up a yellow card for a poor challenge on Dwight McNeil.
The former Arsenal skipper momentarily lost his footing before getting up and grabbing Westwood around the throat. The VAR advised referee Graham Scott to take a look at the incident on the pitchside monitor, with a straight red for violent conduct the verdict.
Ben Mee came within a whisker of connecting with a corner in the six-yard box and then tried his luck with a powerful strike from distance as Arteta sent on Dani Ceballos in reponse to Xhaka’s dismissal.
Arsenal could arguably have gone down to nine men, but VAR decided that a yellow was the appropriate punishment for Elneny as he pushed James Tarkowski in the face at a corner.
The decisive blow was struck 17 minutes from time, when Aubameyang – who has struggled notably to score in the right net this season – tried to defend a Westwood corner at the front post and succeeded only in flicking a header beyond Leno. That was the only set-piece goal Arsenal have conceded in 2020/21.
There was no shortage of effort as Arsenal’s 10 men huffed and puffed in search of a late equaliser, but again there was a real lack of creativity from a side that have scored just 10 Premier League goals so far this term and only two in their last eight games.
Tarkowski threw his head in the way of a curling Saka effort and Gabriel dragged a shot well wide, with Eddie Nketiah sent on with Arteta’s last roll of the dice.
Holding then couldn’t make much of two half-chances in five minutes of second-half stoppage time and boos greeted the final whistle from many of the 2,000 Arsenal fans attending a league fixture at the Emirates for the first time since March.