Acid test next for free-scoring Arsenal

LONDON - A tactical switch by Arsene Wenger has made free-scoring Arsenal look like title contenders before Saturday's Premier League trip to champions Manchester United.

Arsenal's attack-minded squad have been complemented by Wenger's change from a 4-4-1-1 to a 4-3-3 formation this season that has brought 10 goals and victories in their first two league matches.

The Londoners also recorded a 5-1 aggregate win over Celtic to qualify for the Champions League group stages.

United's 5-0 thrashing of Wigan Athletic last Saturday suggested they were beginning to adapt to life without former talisman Cristiano Ronaldo after going into the game on the back of a shock 1-0 defeat at promoted Burnley.

Arsenal, leaders Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Chelsea have all made 100 percent starts to the season and Wenger expects another tough battle for the title.

"Two years ago we had 83 points and didn't win the title. Last year Liverpool had 86 points and didn't win the title," Wenger told the club's website.

"Let's not speculate on any weakness of any other team but just look how high that level is and that it means we need really to be super-consistent."


Arsenal's Champions League hopes were wrecked last season when Ronaldo produced a dazzling semi-final second leg display at the Emirates.

United's 4-1 aggregate win underlined a chasm in quality between the two rivals but the availability of Andrei Arshavin and the return to fitness of Eduardo da Silva and Tomas Rosicky should make Arsenal a tougher proposition on Saturday.

Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas is doubtful with a tight hamstring and Theo Walcott is out with a back injury.

United, boosted by the return of defender Nemanja Vidic from injury, are still without goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has demanded more from his squad ahead of Saturday's trip to Bolton Wanderers after losing twice in three games this season.

"Clearly the team...has to improve," Benitez told the club's website.

Chelsea, unbeaten under Carlo Ancelotti, host a Burnley side who have won their last two league games while Tottenham will be favourites at home to Birmingham City.

Sunderland travel to Stoke City, Wolverhampton Wanderers host Hull City and Blackburn Rovers, without a point, play West Ham United at Ewood Park.

On Sunday, Manchester City could hand a debut to new signing Joleon Lescott at Portsmouth, who have lost all three matches this season.

Aston Villa entertain Fulham while Everton look for their first points at home to Wigan.