As the January transfer window ended, I predicted Arsenal's lack of transfer activity in the window would cost them big time in the title run in. Fast forward to 3pm on Saturday afternoon and the seeds that were planted by deadline day had began to hatch.
Serious praise must go to Liverpool for reducing Arsenal to rumble within 20 minutes, but from Arsenal's point of view, the defeat (or at least a thrashing) was wholly avoidable if Arsene Wenger had gone out and brought what they needed: a defensive midfielder and a dynamic striker.
I will concede Liverpool's attacking trio (Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling) are truly a fearsome combination, even with a defensive midfielder in tow, Arsenal would have found it difficult to contain them. However, the job Arsenal's defense had trying to keep Liverpool's attack at bay was exacerbated by not having any cover.
Three of the five goals Arsenal conceded were purely down to not having someone covering the center of the park, hence when Mesut Ozil cheaply lost the ball twice, Henderson, Coutinho and latterly former Gunner Kolo Toure had all the time in the world to pick out a pass that isolated Koscienly and the extremely slow Mertesacker into one on one races with the fastest forward line up the Premier League has to offer - a recipe for disaster.
Available on the market was Porto's Fernando - he is a top class defensive midfielder and would not have cost an arm and a leg, especially considering his contract is up in June. If not Fernando, Lassana Diarra or Lars Bender would have been welcomed additions at a slightly more costly price.
The main point I am trying to drive is Arsenal have a series of games against top class opposition between February and March, they are all more potent than Arsenal in attack. Considering this period will define how successful their season is, the season they are most likely to end their nine year wait for a title, to not go into this period with the strongest team defensive available smacks of complacency of the highest order.
With Arsenal's only defensive midfielder, Flamini, suspended; Arsenal's best tackler this season, Ramsey, injured; and Wilshere having niggling injuries here and there, Arsenal are left with an out of form Arteta and Chainberlain who is a winger, protecting the back four - the mind boggles as to why Wenger allowed this to happen.
This goes someway as to explain why Arsenal were so open against Liverpool on Saturday. A gung-ho approach when a defensive has been weakened is not actually a bad idea, if anythings it helps take off the pressure on a defence that was going to leak goals anyway. Though when your attack is as docile as Arsenal's was on Saturday, you are really not doing yourself any favours.
However, this has been a problem long before the Liverpool game. Indeed, Arsenal have been sluggish up top for quite a while, it has only been through excellent midfield work they have created enough chances to win the game.
Most of Arsenal's goals this season have been scored by midfielders in a rich vein of form such as: Ramsey at the beginning of the season, Theo Walcott during the Christmas period, and just recently Santi Cazorla. Aside from that, any other goal was created through excellent team work, allowing an unlikely player to get on the score sheet, for example: Jack Wilshere against Norwich.
What Arsenal have lacked is a striker who will grab a goal through rain or shine, against Fulham on a warm Saturday at the Emirates, or away against Liverpool on a day of torrential downpour. The fact Wenger made failed loan bids for Kalou and Klose suggests he knew a striker was imperative.
Oliver Giroud, bless him, has tried his hardest to fulfill that role, but before the January window opened, it became obvious he would never be that player for Arsenal. Against Liverpool he showed us exactly why he would never be that player; on too many occasions he was slow in his movements and he has a distinct inability to dribble past players, or create space for himself with the deftest of touches.
Yes, the likes of Mesut Ozil did not help him, and have not helped him for a long time. Though I would argue Giroud's game is in conflict with Mesut Ozil. Ozil needs a dynamic player in front of him like he had when he combined with Cristiano Ronaldo several times; or a striker with a good first touch like Karim Benzema has, so that Ozil and the hypothetical player Arsenal should have signed could link up in a series of one-twos, dragging the opposition out of place for a dynamic winger to take advantage off.
This hypothetical player could have easily been Dimitar Berbatov, now on loan at Monaco. For all his faults, he is a level above Oliver Giroud as well as Lille's Saloman Kalou, who Arsenal failed to get on loan.
Getting in the striker Arsenal actually need would have been very difficult in January, but Berbatov was one of the very few available who is an upgrade on what Arsenal have now and it is very plausible he would have chosen Arsenal over Monaco.
I am also positive Berbatov would have caused a poor Liverpool defence, who were also without any real defensive cover, a lot of trouble.
As it stands, Arsenal's squad is unnecessarily depleted and they have felt to brunt of that against Liverpool. From Manchester United onward, Arsenal have to either up their game or risk their season falling flat on their faces.