Arsenal Look To Newcomers To Spark Improvement

Wenger was stung into action in the final few days of the summer transfer window after Arsenal picked up just one point from their first three games, with their most recent result an embarrassing 8-2 defeat at Manchester United.

A frantic trolley dash saw the French coach bring in five players – defenders Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos, midfielders Yossi Benayoun and Mikel Arteta and striker Park Chu-young – and all five are in contention to start this weekend.

Arsenal, which last won a major trophy in 2005, are already eight points behind leaders United and Manchester City, with many pundits writing off the team’s title chances.

“It is early stages,” said Arteta, the Spanish playmaker who joined from Everton for a reported fee of £10 million ($16 million) – effectively as a replacement for the departed Cesc Fabregas. “We want to start winning on Saturday and get that right. From then, hopefully, everything is going to be more positive.

“This club has to be there with them (the title contenders) fighting until the very end, that’s for sure. Nobody can be happy saying they are too good or have spent more money. We have unbelievable talent here and if we can use it the right way, I am sure we can fight with them.”

First opportunity

The Premier League resumes after a two-week break for international fixtures, giving teams a first opportunity to select players signed late in the transfer window.

United, though, made all their transfer moves early in the offseason, which could be one of the reasons why the defending champions have started so smoothly.

They have scored 13 goals in three games, with England striker Wayne Rooney helping himself to five of them and international colleague Danny Welbeck also impressing up front.

With Welbeck out with a hamstring injury, United manager Alex Ferguson could recall Mexico striker Javier Hernandez, who combined with Rooney to great effect last season in his first year in English football, for the trip to northwest neighbours Bolton.

“Me and him (Hernandez) do a lot of finishing after sessions to try and keep progressing and getting better,” Rooney told United’s website. “He was a young lad in his first season and I probably didn’t think he was going to play as many games as he did.

“Once he got into the team, he took his chance and the manager kept him in. He repaid the manager with goals and was brilliant for us last season. I’m looking forward to him doing the same, if not scoring more goals for us, this season.”

City, who are behind United on goal difference, are at home to unbeaten Wigan while third-place Liverpool – two points behind the co-leaders – visit Stoke tomorrow.

Along with Arsenal, Stoke were one of the most active teams on transfer deadline day, bringing in England striker Peter Crouch and Honduras midfielder Wilson Palacios for a combined reported fee of £18 million ($29 million).

Stoke, yet to lose this season, is a team transformed from the physical, direct one that was simply happy to survive in the top division as little as two years ago.


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