Arsenal vs. Liverpool: 5 Concerns for Arsene Wenger After Liverpool Defeat

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2011

Arsenal vs. Liverpool: 5 Concerns for Arsene Wenger After Liverpool Defeat

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    Yesterday's 2-0 defeat by Liverpool revealed plenty of troubling deficiencies in the current Arsenal squad. Arsene Wenger has plenty to ponder as he attempts to rectify his team's failings.

    The midfield again lacked the invention needed to create chances and the forward line was static and ineffectual.

    Injuries have exposed the lack of credible depth at the defensive positions.  These flaws contributed to a disjointed performance, lacking cohesion and purpose.

    With only a solitary point from two league games and a plethora of injuries and suspensions, Wenger faces a tough task as he attempts to salvage Arsenal's prospects for a successful campaign.

    Here are the five most troubling points of concern to emerge from Saturday's loss.

5. Andrey Arshavin's Continuing Poor Form

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    It is simply mystifying that a player of Arshavin's talent continues to flounder.  Whether or not he is best suited for a wide position, the mercurial Russian has to do better.

    Yesterday Arshavin could not even manage basic control of the ball.  He over hit the simplest of passes and was badly off the pace.

    Arshavin is a player capable of terrorising any defense.  He has the vision, awareness and skill to be a major threat for Arsenal.

    But his malaise has gone on long enough.  Arshavin has become a liability to the team.  His lack of defensive inclination could always be accepted on the basis that his flair would provide enough value in attack to compensate for his lack of effort tracking back.

    Now Arshavin is failing to offer anything in the forward areas.  Too many moves break down a result of a poor touch or bad decision from the Russian international.

    If Arshavin cannot find ways to recapture his best form, it could be time for Arsene Wenger to part ways with his record signing.

4. Lack of Credbile Options at Left Back

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    The decision to move Bacary Sagna to the left side of defense, revealed how much Arsenal need a more reliable presence at left back.

    Sagna did his best down the left flank but was a shadow of his usual marauding self.  The Gunners badly missed the consistent outlet he provides at right back.

    Without Sagna's buccaneering runs Arsenal were unable to consistently stretch the Liverpool defense.  This allowed the visitors to become compact and funnel everything into crowded central areas.

    Kieran Gibbs is a gifted attacking full back but his alarming penchant for injuries makes him a huge risk as a starter.

    Deputy Armand Traore has seen his development blighted by injury and inconsistency.  It could be time for Wenger to consider adding a more dependable player at this vital position.

3. Arsenal Cannot Rely on Aaron Ramsey to Fill the Void Left by Cesc Fabregas

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    Aaron Ramsey was a big disappointment in yesterday's contest.  Arsenal simply cannot expect the young Welshman to lead the midfield this season.

    Ramsey was ponderous throughout the game.  Too often he slowed down the play and failed to provide any guile to Arsenal's passing.

    Most worrying was Ramsey's weakness in the tackle.  Ramsey's inability to win back possession is beginning to seriously undermine the Gunners midfield.

    His poor attempts at challenging for the ball are putting too much pressure on Arsenal's holding players to make the lion's share of the tackles.

    It's impossible not to have sympathy for Ramsey.  The devastating injury he suffered against Stoke City has clearly curtailed much of his initial promise.

    This is precisely why it is unfair to both Ramsey and Arsenal, to expect him to direct the midfield during this crucial season.

    A squad role may be better for Ramsey as he continues to work his way back from his lengthy layoff.

2. Theo Walcott Must Work Harder

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    Theo Walcott was dreadful against Liverpool.  After rebounding from an equally abhorrent showing against Newcastle United with an impressive performance against Udinese, Walcott was expected to be Arsenal's biggest threat against Liverpool.

    Instead the England international seemed content to languish out on the right wing and simply wait for the ball to come to him.

    His lack of effort to go and attack different areas of the Liverpool defense was infuriating.  Too often Walcott has demonstrated a reticence to make the clever and varied runs Arsenal's passing style demands.

    His assertion that he is a winger but wants to play centrally, is beginning to sound like a thinly veiled excuse for his failure to realise his enormous potential.

    A player with Walcott's incredible speed and assured finishing ability should see 20 goals a minimum target to aim for.

    It is up to Walcott to prove that he merits consideration as a striker.  In Arsenal's front three it shouldn't matter where he begins.  It's what he does from there in terms of movement and timing that count.

    Walcott has to work harder to be the attacking threat he should be.  In Arsene Wenger's fluid style of football, positioning is no excuse for lack of production.

1. Robin Van Persie Needs More Support

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    Robin Van Persie is being left far too isolated to have a positive impact so far this season.  The Dutchman is suffering in the absence of genuine creativity and players willing to come off the wings and supplement his efforts.

    Van Persie has lacked sharpness in his first two games.  He squandered Arsenal's best chance against Liverpool, when he scuffed a shot straight at Pepe Reina in the second half, with the score deadlocked at 0-0.

    Without the quick and accurate through passes from Cesc Fabregas to latch onto, Van Persie is struggling to manufacture scoring opportunities.

    He is being forced to drop deeper just to get involved in the game.  Wenger needs to encourage his wider players to link with Van Persie more often, as well as producing smarter, lower deliveries into the box.

    A chief provider must also be found for the midfield to take advantage of Van Persie's clever movement.  The lack of support for the Dutchman has been the main contributing factor behind Arsenal's troubling goal drought.

    Arsene Wenger has a lot to consider over the next couple of weeks.  Defections, injuries and suspensions, as well as a lack of new recruits and the poor form of remaining established players, has put Arsenal on the precipice of a full blown crisis.

    These issues require rapid attention if Arsenal are going to seriously contend this season.