Arsenal Opinion – Fabregas and van Persie to miss Liverpool opener

With pre-season meetings out of the way, Arsene Wenger’s squad for the Premier League opening clash still looks somewhat uncertain. As they did last season, Arsenal travel to Merseyside for their inaugural match of the 2010/11 season. Exactly a year ago on Sunday they swept aside Everton 6-1, this time they face Roy Hodgson’s reforming Liverpool who will surely put up more of a fight than their neighbours last season.

The fixtures have been no kinder to the North Londoners this season. Any away match as a season opener will prove difficult physically and psychologically, therefore Liverpool at Anfield will require extreme concentration at the back. While Wenger’s men made light work of Everton last year, the manager has confirmed that Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas will miss the Liverpool opener making this season’s opener a more difficult task. This may concern fans but it could be ideal chance for the rest of the team to show fans, critics and indeed themselves that they are capable of winning with depth in their squad and are not reliant on any one player no matter how influential.

Arsenal have shown they can win without their star players in the past. Last season the Gunners maintained a steady title challenge without Robin van Persie whom they sorely missed from November to April. Of the top four teams, Wenger’s side have performed at the most consistent level during their pre-season friendlies winning every one of their tests aside from a well-earned draw against AC Milan in the Emirates Cup. Most recently, Saturday’s match against Legia Warsaw showcased a thrilling but narrow 6-5 win. Defence and a goalkeeper is still a concern as Arsenal conceded five goals, the transfer window is slowly closing and the pre-season has done more to hammer home the backline worries rather than give fans the opportunity to drool over the attacking beauty.

The manager has stated that he has an idea of who will start at Anfield, a voluble section of Arsenal fans calling on Wenger to start Jack Wilshere in the Arsenal XI. The young prodigy could very well make the cut and if he was to feature more regularly in the Premier League season, Arsenal could have found their missing link in midfield – a diverse, skilful and fearless midfielder who gives the Gunners a cutting edge reminiscent of what a young Joe Cole brought to West Ham.

The absence Fabregas and van Persie could hinder Arsenal’s chances of coming away with points on Sunday but could also prove the ideal litmus test as to Arsenal’s strength. Coming away with a point or three from one of their biggest tests early in the season without their talismanic captain or star striker could prove a mental jump start.

It seems unlikely that Arsene Wenger will buy a goalkeeper between now and Sunday, with two big names out for the crucial opening clash responsibility will fall to the other senior players. This writer feels it could just be a certain 5’4” Russian who could make the difference for Arsenal once again, as Arshavin seems to have made his niche at Anfield.

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