In Arsenal's stalemate with Newcastle, the Gunners' defense was surprisingly solid. In fact, it was extremely solid, and they dealt with every threat well—whether it was in the air, or on the ground. Defending on set pieces was massively improved, and dangerous balls were immediately cleared to safety.
Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny proved to be an excellent centreback combination, while Bacary Sagna played well as usual. Hell, even Kieran Gibbs looked more solid than ever.
So why could Arsenal only manage a 0-0 draw?
Of course, just when one problem seems to fix itself, another one arises for the Gunners. Arsenal's goal-less draw was clearly the result of a lack of creative spark in midfield.
Although Aaron Ramsey has time and time again been dubbed as Cesc Fabregas' successor, he lacked any creativity with his passes. Tomas Rosicky actually played better than the Welshman, and had a lot more time on the ball as well as showing some ambition with some good positive passes. However, none of them added any creativity to Arsenal's attacks from the midfield.
In fact, out of all the Arsenal central midfielders who played against Newcastle, Alex Song seemed to have the most creativity. Although his position is a defensive midfielder, he made a number of forward thinking passes, with one excellent through ball to Robin van Persie who didn't time his run as well as he could've.
Even though van Persie usually finds a way to score, no matter the result, he wasn't provided with enough ammunition to hit the back of the net. Only a handful of passes reached him, but most were out of his reach or were cleared by defenders. Without a creative midfielder, van Persie is almost useless, as he just can't do it all by himself.
Gervinho made a few excellent runs up the wing, but lacked the end product to send a decent cross to van Persie, and the Ivorian either hit the side netting or his pass was met by the foot of a Newcastle defender.
To sum it all up, Arsenal's attacks simply lacked the bite that they usually have. They dominated the match, as usual, but didn't have enough creativity in midfield to actually send a threatening pass up to a striker.
And that's going to be a problem against Liverpool this weekend. After splashing the cash, Liverpool have tons of talent in midfield, including Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez... must I go on?
Frankly, it worries me that Arsenal could possibly go into the Liverpool match playing the same midfield they did against Newcastle. Hopefully, Jack Wilshere will be fit in time for the match, but a 19-year-old against the world class talents in the Liverpool midfield probably won't be enough.
So that means Arsenal should seriously consider taking care of their Cesc Fabregas replacement transfers this week, so the player(s) will have enough time to train with the squad and play against Liverpool.
Apparently Arsene Wenger has his eye on Brazilian international Jadson, Spanish playmaker Juan Mata and Lille hero Eden Hazard. Each one of these players would be great signings, and all of them would be even better. But let's stay realistic here.
If Arsenal do sign one of those players this week, which is realistic as Wenger has shown a bit more ambition in the transfer market lately, then Arsenal have a good chance of having an outstanding match against Liverpool and beating them at the Emirates.
But if they fail to sign any of these players, the Gunners face a tough challenge against Liverpool, and the Arsenal defense must be as solid as it was against Newcastle if they wants to take away any points from the match. Either way, Arsenal will probably dominate the game, as they usually do against Liverpool, but counter attacks from the Reds could be very dangerous and Vermaelen and Koscielny will have to be at their best.
Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Song wouldn't be a bad trio to have in the midfield against Liverpool, but that's only given Aaron Ramsey puts in one of his more inspirational performances, like the one against Manchester United.
Let's hope Arsene Wenger can make a move in the next week to alleviate Cesc Fabregas' departure and give the Gunners more creativity and bite in their attack.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!