Arsenal Gunned Down by Liverpool, More Trouble Ahead for Arsene Wenger

Jonathan Woo@woo_jonathanwooCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20:  Dejected Arsenal fans during defeat in the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on August 20, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20: Dejected Arsenal fans during defeat in the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on August 20, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

With rain pouring down at the Emirates, Arsenal's prospects for its 2011 campaign have gone from bad to worse.

Just days after the Gunners' golden boy Cesc Fabregas made a reported £35 million switch to his hometown club, Barcelona, Arsenal tripped and slipped its way to a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool via a head-scratching own goal off Aaron Ramsey and an extra-time score from Luis Suarez.

It was Liverpool's first away win against Arsenal in 11 years, but the drop in points should be the least of Arsene Wenger's worries.

Injuries are beginning to pile up, the midfield looks absolutely depleted, and, for the second straight week, an Arsenal player was sent off.

Laurent Koscielny left the game after just 15 minutes with back spasms, adding to a list of injuries that includes Johan Djourou, Tomas Rosicky, Armand Traore, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, and Abou Diaby.

Alex Song and Gervinho were unavailable due to suspensions, and 19-year-old Emmanuel Frimpong joined them with a couple of bookings on Saturday.

Samir Nasri has all but finalized a move out of the Emirates, leaving Arsenal's midfield in dire need of a creative playmaker, and the lack of a true center forward often paralyzes Arsenal's attack. 

All of these issues are in the present and immediate future, but the road ahead should worry every Arsenal fan.

Champions League Implications

The Gunners will travel to Italy for their second-leg match against Udinese on Wednesday for a spot in the group stages of the Champions League, a position that Arsenal has consistently occupied for the some time.

But with only a one-goal margin to take with them, this depleted Gunners squad could miss out on Europe's top club competition.

If its performance against Liverpool is any indication of the direction the club is going, Arsenal may be in for a dreary first half of the season.

What's the Mata?

Valencia and Spain U-21 star Juan Mata has made headlines in the transfer window for the past few weeks as his services have been notably coveted by some of the top clubs in Europe, Arsenal included.

But as the transfer deadline looms, the Gunners have seemingly fallen behind in Mata's acquisition as Chelsea have taken up the pole position to land the £23.5-million-rated midfielder and winger.

Mata's central-midfield presence would solve some of Arsenal's problems in creating chances up front, but Wenger will have to reach for the checkbook multiple times to shore up the misfortunes and shortcomings in the defensive third.

There are only 11 more days before the transfer window closes, and if Arsenal fails to reel in a the necessary additions with game-changing impact, the January window couldn't come soon enough.

Remember Liverpool?

Surely Liverpool remembers its dreadful start to the 2010 EPL season, and perhaps Arsenal can attest to its early struggles.

The Gunners may also remember how the Reds slowly and steadily scaled the tables for a sixth-place finish, not a desirable result given the club's status as one of England's best but respectable given its horrendous start.

By no means can we conclude that the season is lost for Arsenal; it is only the second round of league play.

But not to have a lick of anxiety over the Gunners' present conundrum would be a silly disposition. 

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