By Shikharr Chandra
This January was a chance for both clubs to get rid of the baggage they have been carrying over the last few years. Arsenal's trophy less run for nearly a decade has left the fans frustrated whereas Liverpool's failure to break into the Champions League places has seen their stature as one of the biggest clubs in England diminish.
For the first time in nearly five years, both Liverpool and Arsenal find themselves in a very similar situation. The Gunners are currently top of the Premier League, two points clear of closest rivals Manchester City and Chelsea whereas Brendan Rodgers' side are fourth on the table, two clear of Merseyside rivals Everton.
As both these sides battle it out this Saturday, a win for either side could see them strengthen their hold on their current position. Should Arsenal lose, they could possibly go third while Liverpool would be overtaken by Everton should they lose at Anfield this Saturday.
Mid-season transfer window gives an opportunity for clubs to look back over the last few months and strengthen the areas where they lack. Jose Mourinho's Chelsea made full use of this chance and got in players in areas where they lacked depth and quality. The signing of Nemanja Matic from Benfica has turned out to be a coup whereas Mohamed Salah is yet to showcase his ability.
David Moyes added arguably one of the finest play-makers in the Premier League to his ranks in Juan Mata for a record transfer fee. The Spaniard already has two assists in his two starts for the club and even though they failed to sign more players in areas where they were needed to, the signing of a star player certainly adds confidence to the side, which United lack.
Everton added Lacina Traore and Aiden McGeady to their ranks and although Tottenham and Manchester City failed strengthen in January; their squad depth is far superior to their closest rivals in the league.
|"Failure to add anyone in January - Liverpool"|
Liverpool's lack of options in the defensive midfield department following the injury to Lucas Leiva has led to Steven Gerrard being deployed in a deeper position. Although the England captain has been fairly decent, games against the likes of Aston Villa certainly showed that Liverpool needs a far better option.
In the defense, first choice full backs Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique are out injured and even though Jon Flanagan has stepped up as a saviour, the full back had just come back from an injury. Martin Kelly and Aly Cissokho, the other two options are not really the kind of players that Liverpool can count upon.
Instead of targeting in areas where the club really needs to add depth, Ian Ayre and co. decided to go for the likes of Yevhen Konoplyanka and Salah - attacking midfielders. Liverpool's key area has been their attack with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge leading the goal scoring chart, whereas Raheem Sterling and Phillipe Coutinho have contributed well to that partnership.
There is no doubt that having quality players in every position would boost the team's chances of qualifying into the Champions League next season but it was not where the club needed an imminent signing.
The Reds waited the entire window to sign Salah and in the end with the departure of Mata and Kevin De Bruyne, Chelsea progressed quickly to sign their replacement. Konoplyanka's transfer is where the club supporters could show a bit of sympathy to the club who despite activating the player’s release clause could not sign the Ukrainian.
Rodgers said in a press conference that he wanted players that could fit into the first team and not just those who could add numbers to the squad. But it is often seen that the cost of signing a world class player increases in the January window thus making the recruitment process even more complicated.
|"Signing an injured player! - Arsenal"|
Arsenal failed to land a striker yet again, providing no decent back up to Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman has been in fine form this season and has been one of the reasons why the Gunners seem to find themselves in such a strong position. However what most fans expected is that the club will land a player capable of challenging Giroud for a berth in the starting eleven.
Nicklas Bendtner has scored a couple of goals this term at crucial junctures but is he an able back-up for Giroud when facing top quality sides? Maybe no. The club was linked to various strikers such as Miroslav Klose and Salomon Kalou however there was no official word on this. There were linked to Schalke’s Julian Draxler but Arsene Wenger was quick to suggest that it was mere rumuor.
Arsenal completed the signing of Kim Kallstrom on the final day of the window. At first it seemed to be a decent move by the Gunners manager who looked to have added an experienced player in his ranks to fill in for the injured Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere. It was later revealed that Kallstrom was already injured when he was signed.
Why would one go out and sign a player who is already out for a month? The Gunners have some tough fixtures this month with the likes of Liverpool and Bayern Munich, games that could decide the fate of Arsenal's season. It would have made sense to sign a fit player who could have stepped up in this vital time.
Despite having made a fantastic start to their season, should Arsenal fail to win a trophy they would look back at the January transfer window with regret.