Arsenal have not begun their season in fluent fashion like they did last season. Nevertheless, a point, albeit a fortunate one, at Anfield is not something to moan about. Arsenal would be happy to have their first point in their kitty as they look forward to their first home game against Blackpool, who are at present riding a crest wave.
Arsene Wenger has some selection issues ahead of the encounter with many of Arsenal's personnel struck by the injury bug, which has continued from where it left in the previous season. It is important that Wenger makes full utilization of the final days in the transfer market to bolster his injury-hit squad.
Wenger Hints at More Than One Signing
In the prematch press conference, Wenger was confronted by questions on the injury front and on whether any transfers were imminent. I will discuss the problems on the injury crisis in the next section and bring out the implications of what Wenger told the media regarding transfers in this section.
He has certainly not ruled out the possibility of signing more players before the close of the window on September 1, which is mostly likely to be a defender and a goalkeeper. Wenger might sign more than one player, according to the official website, and that certainly is great news to all Arsenal fans who have been at pains to understand why Wenger has not moved swiftly enough in the transfer market.
Wenger is a brilliant manager, but his frugal spending in the transfer market has left Arsenal fans in despair and the trophy cabinet has acquired a lot of dust in the past few years. It is time Wenger brings in the depth required to resurrect Arsenal's name as strong title challengers.
Wenger also spoke about how unsettled Manuel Almunia is, regarding transfer speculation involving the goalkeeping situation. To be fair to Almunia, any person is bound to be nervous when his job is on the line, but then, the fact that he has not performed to expected levels has led Wenger to question his ability between the sticks.
Mark Schwarzer is the name doing the rounds around the media circles regarding Almunia's replacement as the No. 1 in the Arsenal team. Mark Hughes, the new Fulham manager, has told the media that they have rejected a second unimproved bid from Arsenal and also accused Arsenal of disrupting his first choice goalkeeper.
To be fair to Arsenal, they have not been commenting on the transfer status of their transfer targets even though they have continually set their sights on Schwarzer, who is just the sort of safe and experienced keeper that Arsenal require for this season.
Wenger has often said they do not have numbers at the back and he is on the market for another defender to fill the void left by the departures of William Gallas, Mikael Silvestre, and Sol Campbell. He has also admitted his interest in acquiring Sevilla defender Sebastien Squillaci to provide experienced cover at the back.
At the moment though, Arsenal and Sevilla differ in their evaluation of the player, but Sevilla look like they might cash in on the last year of his contract after excluding him of their Champions League qualifier.
Squilacci is not one who boasts of a high profile image, but then Wenger knows his transfer targets better than anyone (especially if the player concerned is French). Squilacci is experienced at the highest level and will give quality cover to Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny.
The Injury Crisis: Should Wenger Sign any Midfielders?
It is not much of a surprise to see Arsenal already decimated by injuries and fitness problems to their petite, yet talented, midfielders. The injuries have hit Arsenal hard in the past, but is a knee-jerk reaction to this crisis necessary?
Arsenal are fortunate to have a relatively easy fixture list till the end of September, by which time Arsenal's preseason star, Samir Nasri, should be fit. Samir Nasri is arguably Arsenal's biggest asset who has succumbed to injury in the recent past. Arsenal have in Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott, and Jack Wilshere, three talented players who can replace Nasri in the wide midfield role.
As far as injury to Emmanuel Frimpong is concerned, the lad is out for a long time (seven to eight months) and is effectively ruled out of this season. That leaves Alex Song, Arsenal's regular defensive midfielder, short of cover, but then even last season Arsenal managed without having to call upon the services of Frimpong. Denilson, Diaby, and Djourou can all fulfill the defensive midfielder roles and provide back-up for Song.
The good news on the injury front is that Song is almost back to full fitness and captain Cesc Fabregas is close to making his first appearance in this season. Arsenal need not panic about these injuries and should continue as normal.
Arsenal are fully capable of earning full points from all their fixtures till September even without the presence of key personnel in midfield. They do possess a lot of quality in that area and Wenger should make signing a centre back and goalkeeper his top priorities in the remainder of the transfer market.
Injuries to key players will be no excuse if Arsenal fail to earn maximum points from their next five games, which will be crucial in determining the course of their season.