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English Premiership

Wenger tips misfiring Gunners to spark at Anfield

LIVERPOOL, England, September 1 – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has pleaded for patience with new signings Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud as they attempt to fill the void left by Robin van Persie.

Successive scoreless draws against Stoke and Sunderland have provided an underwhelming start for Wenger’s side, who are once again attempting to overcome the loss of a star player at the start of a Premier League campaign.

Van Persie’s goals underpinned Arsenal’s third placed finish and his move to Manchester United has clearly unsettled the balance of Wenger’s team.

Wenger needs Germany striker Podolski and France forward Giroud to start scoring regularly, but he know it may well take time for them to adapt to the demands of the Premier League.

And Wenger, who lost Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri at this time last season, believes it is too soon to put pressure on his new forwards, citing the examples of Thierry Henry and Robert Pires who took a while to settle before going on to become club legends.

“At the moment I do not want to put too much pressure on them. I remember Thierry Henry arrived here and did not play before November, Robert Pires arrived here and for a few months was not an automatic starter,” Wenger said.

“So you have to give players who have come in a bit of time to adapt to the league and continue to try to play well as a team.”

While Wenger is keen not to rush to judgement over his newboys, he admits to mixed feelings at his side’s start.

“We are used to scoring goals, so we cannot say it is not a concern when we don’t score,” he said.

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“On the other hand, at the moment we have not scored, but we know we can.

“We have also not conceded, so 50 per cent is alright and 50 per cent we want to improve.

“I believe that it is a big test for us but we played against two teams who restricted us to few chances and you have to give credit to them.

“They defended very well but on the other hand they didn’t try to give us too many offensive problems.

“That is why Liverpool is a good test, because it is a team who will defend well and attack well.”

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers expects Arsenal to recover quickly and tipped Wenger’s side to finish in top-four again despite increasing competition from big-spending sides like Chelsea and Tottenham.

“They won’t be vulnerable for their top four position,” Rodgers said. “They’ve been consistently in that top four for the last 15 years but I do think the competition at the top is immense.

“The money that has been invested by some teams makes it that bit tougher. They finished there last year and I’m sure they will do the same this year.

“If you look at Arsenal last season they didn’t start very well but they ended up with the objective they wanted which was the top four.”

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Daniel Agger will return for Liverpool following his one-game suspension, while Lucas Leiva is out with a thigh problem that will keep him sidelined for three months and Andy Carroll has now moved on to West Ham on loan.

Rodgers admitted it has been a testing start to life at Anfield as he battles to rebuild the side on limited resources to suit his passing style of play.

However, that has not changed the Northern Irishman’s belief he was right to leave Swansea for the more high-pressure position at Anfield.

“This is an incredible club,” he added. “I love being here and the challenge of rebuilding this team. I’m used to working with limited resources but obviously the demands are greater here.”

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