Liverpool may have got their Premier League campaign off to a perfect start by securing two wins from their opening matches, but they’ll be handed their sternest test of a still fledgling season when they travel to the Emirates Stadium on Monday to try to banish the memories of last season’s 4-1 spanking at the hands of the Arsene Wenger’s men.
Besides Chelsea legend Petr Cech traversing the London divide to join the Gunners, this will be a team hardly changed from the one that doled out such a dominate first half display. Linked with an interest in a number of big names, most prominent of those being Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, Arsenal have thus far had a quiet summer with only the Czech ‘keeper coming in despite their obvious need for attacking reinforcements , — a problem that Wenger himself has no problem acknowledging.
“There is a shortage in the world [of strikers] and there is a difference between financial power and the availability of top-class players,” the Gunners boss told reporters. “When players are not free you cannot buy because it is the club who owns the contract that decides. Today in Europe you have maybe 15 clubs with huge financial resources and they don’t need money at all. It hasn’t been a frustrating window for me because I’m always more focused on developing the team and the players we have inside the club. I’m not against buying when it is really a plus for the team,” he continued, before adding, “If it is just buying players at the level of the players you have I am not ready for that. But in every position we have strong players.”
Liverpool, in contrast, have brought in seven first team players in what has been a busy summer for the Anfield outfit. Adding new faces all over the park, boss Brendan Rodgers is looking to improve on a poor sixth place finish last season that saw the club fail to follow up the previous years title charge with anything resembling the swashbuckling displays that earned them praise from all corners of the football world. With club captain Jordan Henderson a major doubt for Monday’s trip to the capital, there are concerns that the Reds could be light in the center of the park — a major concern considering the impressive form that both Francis Coquelin and his partner in Santi Cazorla have been in.
“It is easy to play alongside Santi because he is such a great player,” Coquelin told the club’s official website. “We had a good chemistry last season, but there are many great players at this club that we can all play with each other. That is the great thing about this squad; anyone can play and we can still get a result,” explained the Frenchman. “Last season with Santi was something special because we got a lot of praise, but the most important thing is that no matter who plays, we can get the result.”
Three points, as always, is the most important thing; it’s still extremely early doors, but the opening day defeat to London rivals West Ham United hasn’t exactly set Arsenal on the best start. Bouncing back against Crystal Palace last weekend, Wenger will be looking to use the result against the Eagles as a springboard to push up the table, but they’re going to have sort out their problems at the back if they’re going to make a serious run at the title. Bringing in Cech from Chelsea has been seen as a massive step towards doing just that, but the veteran ‘keeper doesn’t expect this to happen overnight; he knows it takes time for a solid defence to be forged.
“When I arrived in 2004, I was discovering every ground and every team’s style of play,” said the Czech shot-stopper, reminiscing on his time with Chelsea. “There is a lot of unknown. But now, 11 years on, I know pretty much every ground in the Premier League and know what to expect, which comes to my advantage. The understanding of the game, the passion and everything surrounding the Premier League is important and that’s an advantage for me,” he continued. “Although I’ve changed club and will have new team-mates, playing for a team that plays a different way, all these little factors will help me because I need to concentrate only on gelling together with my team-mates, with the defence and finding the best possible understanding.”