London: Grappling with injuries, suspensions and departing players, Arsenal faces a tough early challenge in its Premier League campaign with the visit of Liverpool on Saturday.
A disappointing draw in its first league game has been coupled with captain Cesc Fabregas finally moving to Barcelona and the expected departure of midfielder Samir Nasri to Manchester City. Arsenal's chase for a first trophy since 2005 has also taken an early hit with defenders Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou joining midfielder Jack Wilshere on the sidelines by picking up hamstring injuries in Tuesday's 1-0 victory over Udinese in the first leg of their Champions League playoff.
Against Liverpool, Arsenal also has to cope without striker Gervinho and midfielder Alex Song after they were suspended over offenses committed in the opener at Newcastle.
While Arsenal was held to a 0-0 draw on Saturday at St. James' Park, Liverpool also had a disappointing start to the season with a 1-1 home draw against Sunderland.
But it is Arsenal's resources that are most stretched after an offseason outlay of barely 20 million pounds ($33 million) on Ivory Coast striker Gervinho and teenage winger Alex Chamberlain.
By contrast, Liverpool, which has American owners like Arsenal, spent around 50 million pounds over the offseason on top of an outlay of almost 60 million pounds in the January transfer window.
But Arsenal's players are expecting owner Stan Kroenke to strengthen the squad in the final two weeks of this transfer window.
"The players sometimes think, 'What's going on?' We've had a couple of injuries and we have to hope they are not too bad," winger Theo Walcott said. "We have got a fairly big squad but we don't want the squad to get lower and lower. ... I'm sure the boss has got players coming in.
"I don't know, but if you sell one of your best players, I'm sure he's got some options coming in."
After five years at Arsenal, Walcott can be considered a veteran of the team.
"I was the oldest player on the table for dinner at Newcastle at 22 years old," the England winger said. "This team has always been known for being so young but we cannot use that excuse anymore. We need to win something and that's the most important thing.
"It is important to have a mixture of experience and young players but the boss knows what he is doing. He has some great players that he has picked up and we didn't know where they came from."
It was not only Arsenal and Liverpool that experienced a lackluster start to the season, with Andre Villas-Boas' reign as Chelsea manager starting with a 0-0 draw at Stoke.
The 2010 champions will host West Bromwich Albion in Saturday's late match without goalkeeper Petr Cech, who has been ruled out for three to four weeks after injuring his knee in training.
"He fell awkwardly with his weight on top of him," Villas-Boas said.
Hilario is set to play in Cech's absence.
The only expected title contenders to start the season with wins were Manchester rivals United and City.
City's victory was the most emphatic, with Sergio Aguero scoring twice on his debut as Swansea was routed 4-0 on Monday. City makes the short trip on Sunday to Bolton, which also started the season with a 4-0 win at Queens Park Rangers.
"The start was really good and I want to keep like this. It was nice," Aguero said. "I had a chance to play a little bit and I enjoyed it."
United also brought in a player from Atletico Madrid in the offseason, but goalkeeper David de Gea has experienced a more troublesome start to life in England.
The Spaniard was criticized after conceding twice in the Community Shield against City and he was also considered to be at fault for West Bromwich's goal on Sunday, although Alex Ferguson's side recovered to win 2-1.
"Alex will work his magic and the staff will work their magic, and he will be one of the great players by the end of the season," said former United great Bobby Charlton, a club director.
De Gea's next test is in the Monday night match against Tottenham, which is yet to play this season after its opener against Everton was canceled due to security issues following the London riots.
In Saturday's other matches, Newcastle is at Sunderland for a northeast derby, Aston Villa hosts Blackburn, Queens Park Rangers travels to Everton and Swansea faces Wigan in the first Premier League match to be played in Wales.
On Sunday, Norwich hosts Stoke and Fulham is at Wolverhampton Wanderers.