Arsene Wenger sought to ease concerns yesterday about Arsenal's start to the season, ahead of today's home match with Liverpool.
Injuries, suspensions and departures have shorn them of many leading players. Despite supporters' pleas for him to buy a number of replacements, Wenger insisted yesterday that critics "have to trust [his] judgement".
While today will see only Arsenal's third competitive match of the season, they already face a crisis of availability. Alex Song and Gervinho are suspended, while Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Johan Djourou and Kieran Gibbs are all injured. Cesc Fabregas has been sold – and not yet replaced – while Samir Nasri, who is available for selection, is close to a move to Manchester City.
Arsenal did, though, sign teenage Costa Rican forward Joel Campbell yesterday from Saprissa.
Wenger admitted yesterday that Arsenal, who will vigorously contest Uefa's disciplinary proceedings against the manager following Tuesday's 1-0 Champions League win over Udinese, "have swam a bit against the stream" so far, but said that "on the performance side it's not been the worst start of the season".
Concerning questions over his own performance, he asked for trust based on his record. "I believe I have shown in my 15 years here I am capable to make the right decision for the right players," he said. "You have seen more world-class players here, or as many as anywhere else. You have to trust my judgement – one day somebody else will make the decisions in my place and we'll have to trust him."
Injuries and suspensions will likely force Wenger to start youngsters Emmanuel Frimpong and Carl Jenkinson today. Wenger praised midfielder Frimpong yesterday. "He is a fighter," he said, "and he uses the ball well."
Today's game will also be Robin van Persie's first since he was appointed permanent captain following Fabregas's departure. "He loves the club, he's attached to the club," Wenger said. "He's a technical leader on the football pitch and he's grown into leader. Robin van Persie speaks his mind without bad feelings. He will be the perfect leader."
Kenny Dalglish has fewer concerns and suggested Liverpool might win at Arsenal for the first time since 2000. "Maybe we're due for a win," said the Liverpool manager yesterday.