Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0: Stalemate underlines Arsene Wenger's striker problems, but will he act amid latest Karim Benzema development?

Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0: Goalless draw highlights lack of attacking options at the Emirates

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger, principal lecturer in the art of longevity, is at pains to show any sympathy towards those who have done him wrong in the two decades he has spent at Arsenal.

As the transfer market becomes an increasingly byzantine world where deals are more akin to international nuclear disarmament talks than the mere exchange of talented footballers, it is easy to see why Premier League managers cling onto their grudges.

While Brendan Rodgers is not nearly his primary enemy in a division littered with managers who Wenger has fallen out with, this 0-0 draw represents a missed opportunity nonetheless to have the upper-hand over his Liverpool counterpart.

The Gunners boss, a Jekyll and Hyde figure in his twentieth season at the North London club, is malevolent and patient when exacting his revenge. As Liverpool, marshaled by the excellent Philippe Coutinho, pummelled the makeshift defensive pairing of Calum Chambers and Gabriel in the first-half, Wenger would have been fearing the worst.

 

Karim Benzema, the Real Madrid striker who now appears destined to sign a new contract at the Santiago Bernabéu after becoming the latest target to stand Wenger up, is surely just the latest name to be jotted into his little black book. Linesman Simon Bennett, who wrongly disallowed Aaron Ramsey’s first half effort, won’t be far behind.

But a first-half horror show from the hosts was managed expertly, partly thanks to the visitors' impotency in front of goal, but Wenger's search for a proven goalscorer continues - hence his grievances with Rodgers.

Speaking to the media last week, anticipating the visit of long-term foes Liverpool, the phlegmatic Frenchman elected to tug open the stitches of a wound many assumed had long been sealed.

Quizzed on Raheem Sterling’s Anfield departure to Manchester City this summer, for a fee which could rise to £49m, the 65-year-old was withering in his critique of his opponents’ transfer policy.

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Olivier Giroud failed to score again

“Liverpool make their own decisions,” he shrugged. “They refused to sell us [Luis] Suárez so I cannot feel too much sympathy for them.”

Wenger’s audacious £40,000,001 bid for the Uruguayan two years ago, as courageous as it was unexpected, was supposed to have met his release clause.

But Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, insisted to the contrary and Suárez remained on Merseyside for another year, scoring 31 goals, to almost fire the Reds to a title which has alluded Wenger since 2004.

Olivier Giroud, making his 100th Premier League appearance for the Gunners, has scored 42 goals in that time - behind only Thierry Henry (59), Ian Wright (56) and Emmanuel Adebayor (44).

Emirates regulars, however, will point towards the inescapable fact that the vast majority of those strikes have come against teams fighting a relegation battle rather than their immediate rivals. The groans which circled around the Emirates whenever he lost the ball tell a tale of a group of supporters desperate to see the back of him.

A goalless draw is unlikely to make them consider a change of heart anytime soon.

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