Arsenal hopes signings can make impact
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger needs his batch of new signings to make an immediate impact in Saturday's home match against promoted Swansea if the team is to get its faltering Premier League campaign back on course.
Wenger was stung into action in the final few days of the summer transfer window after Arsenal picked up just one point from its first three games, with its 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, is 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 pounds ($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.''
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 its 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 neighbor 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, which is behind United on goal difference, is at home to unbeaten Wigan while third-place Liverpool - two points behind the co-leaders - visits Stoke on Saturday.
Along with Arsenal, Stoke was 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 pounds ($29 million).
Stoke, which is 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.
''I look around our dressing room and we have some fantastic players in there,'' said Crouch, a former Liverpool player. ''I know from being an opposing player that nobody enjoys coming here and playing against Stoke.
''It's always an incredibly hard game to play in so we have the belief that we can win the game.''
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is unlikely to have captain Steve Gerrard available as the England midfielder closes in on a return from a groin injury but could hand a debut to Uruguay center back Sebastian Coates, who joined last week from Nacional de Montevideo.
Also on Saturday, fourth-place Chelsea travels to Sunderland, Everton hosts Aston Villa and in-form Wolverhampton Wanderers is at home to Tottenham, which has lost its first two games.
On Sunday, Norwich hosts West Bromwich Albion and Fulham is at home to Blackburn, while Joey Barton, one of Queens Park Rangers' new signings, should make his debut against former club Newcastle on Monday.