There are many story lines heading into the Arsenal - Liverpool match at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Samir Nasri, the star playmaker who has been linked to Manchester City for several weeks, may wind up in the starting eleven, as Arsenal have a depleted club in their home opener.
The first home match of the season is supposed to be about optimism, but the mood amongst Arsenal supporters will lean more towards frustration. After under-achieving last season, Arsenal fans were expecting a massive upgrade, and have yet to receive it. The presence of Nasri in an Arsenal uniform will serve as another reminder that the Gunners have unfinished business to attend to with less than two weeks remaining before the transfer deadline. More than likely, Nasri won't play as reports have the 24-year-old taking a medical exam for Manchester City.
Arsenal fans may watch the opening kickoff in bewilderment as a makeshift Gunners squad take on an elite Premier League club.
Along with the departures of a few key players over the past two months, Arsenal will also be missing numerous players due to injury and suspension. Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby are out with ankle injuries, Tomas Rosicky and Armand Traore are sidelined with groin injuries, and Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou are out with hamstring injuries. Alex Song and forward Gervinho are serving suspensions for their separate roles in violent conduct with Newcastle's Joey Barton last week.
Arsene Wenger might feel like England Under-20s manager Brian Eastick with the starters he trots out against Liverpool. Teenagers Emmanuel Frimpong, Carl Jenkinson, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all may see significant playing time on Saturday. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and midfielder Aaron Ramsey might feel like elder statesmen on the pitch though neither are even 22 years old.
It's also possible that 18-year-old Japanese star Ryo Miyaichi could make his debut after being granted a work permit.
As for Liverpool, manager Kenny Dalglish has two notable players that will be inactive for the match. Glen Johnson is doubtful due to a hamstring injury, and star midfielder Steven Gerrard has yet to play since March due to a groin surgery and his return was pushed back after he suffered an infection related to the operation. There is no firm timetable for his return, but he could be back in mid-September.
While Arsenal seem to be in disarray, Dalglish has things looking very much in order for the Reds. The Liverpool boss added Jose Enrique, Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, and Jordan Henderson to a club that made major strides with the additions of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in the second half of last season.
There is a feeling of optimism around Anfield. Liverpool currently has a much better outlook for the season than it did at this time last year.
Liverpool are coming off a 1-1 result with Sunderland at Anfield. In the match, Suarez missed a penalty kick, so it would be understandable for the Reds to feel disappointed in missing out on a win, and look to make up for it against Arsenal. Suarez scored the lone Liverpool goal, however, and has proven to be in quality form to start the season.
The last time Arsenal and Liverpool met at Emirates Stadium, the match ended in rather controversial fashion.
Robin van Persie put Arsenal ahead on a penalty kick in the final moments of the match. However, after a questionable foul on Emmanuel Eboue on Lucas, Dirk Kuyt evened things up with a penalty kick of his own in what turned out to be the last play of the match. The 1-1 result basically extinguished Arsenal's chances of catching leader Manchester United atop the table.
After the match, Wenger and Dalglish didn't shake hands, and Dalglish ended the exchange by directing profanity at the Arsenal boss.
OUTLOOK: Though Liverpool would find a draw an acceptable result in most circumstances when playing Arsenal at Emirates, Dalglish's squad has a solid chance to leave with a victory considering the setbacks Arsenal have recently suffered. Expect a very aggressive attack from the Reds, particularly from Suarez, who has a lot of confidence after his goal against Sunderland and his successful tournament in Copa America. Wenger has attacking options, but the midfield desperately needs cohesion, and at the moment there is little.
SCORE PREDICTION: Arsenal 1 - 2 Liverpool
D: Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Jenkinson
M: Frimpong; Ramsey, Arshavin
F: Walcott, Chamakh, Van Persie
D: Kelly, Agger, Carragher, Enrique
M: Lucas, Adam, Kuyt, Downing
F: Suarez, Carroll.