So the transfer window has closed and football is again the focus as our boys prepare for a tough trip at Anfield.
I was disappointed and a little surprised with Arsenal’s lack of signings. We are a team in transition at the moment and with Song leaving and Sahin heading to Liverpool, I expected a midfield replacement of some sort. When Michael Essien became linked with a loan move I was optimistic, yet there’s little evidence to suggest we were every really interested in the first place.
Plenty of people will be disheartened going into the Liverpool game. They will see Sahin’s place in the opposition’s team as a symbol of our failure to act decisively and strengthen the team. They will see the Theo Walcott contract situation and be reminded of Robin van Persie or Mathieu Flamini.
To those people I would say: maintain your patience, however hard it is. This is a team in transition, with a fresh outlook and fresh ideas. It will take a little while to get right.
Today’s game should be thrilling because both sides are far from the finished product. Liverpool are looking to play possession football under Brendan Rodgers and gave Manchester City a fright last week. It will be interesting to see how they combat our boys, the masters of possession football, on their home turf.
Our difficulties at the moment are obvious. We look solid and pragmatic in defence but badly need a goal, as much to banish the van Persie demon as to kick-start our season. Podolski and Giroud both looked bright last week and with every new day on the training ground together should improve their relationship.
In terms of player availability Laurent Koscielny will be back — although I hardly expect him to start — while Wojciech Szczesny is a decent chance of resuming his place in goals. He faces a late fitness test.
The manager has the option of playing an unchanged line-up from last week. I expect the defensive unit — which has functioned well with guidance from midfield from the irreplaceable Mikel Arteta — to keep their places. Further afield I see no reason why Cazorla and Diaby should be replaced, while I expect Walcott to come in for Gervinho after the Ivorian’s rather chaotic performance at Stoke.
I think it is imperative that Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla all start again. The more minutes they can get on the pitch together the more chance it gives our attack to improve. It’s not rocket science but the sooner this happens the better.
This match will give a good indication of where we are at in this early stage of the season. So far we have completely dominated two of the least offensive sides in the competition but failed to score. Today we will play a team that will ask us more questions at the back. Will it offer us more space to operate in when going forward?
Playing at Anfield is always a test and with both sides still in the process of defining their style I expect a hard-fought, high-energy game with plenty of skill errors. It could be a cracker.