Arsenal eye fresh start with clear heads

MANCHESTER - Arsenal hope to make a fresh start to their Premier League campaign when they entertain newcomers Swansea City this weekend armed with new signings and clear heads after a welcome international break.

While free-scoring Manchester rivals United and City have blasted out of the blocks with a 100 percent record, Arsene Wenger's side have picked up just one point from their first three matches as well as several injuries and suspensions.

The departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri compounded their problems but they have replenished their squad with a host of transfer deadline-day signings such as Mikel Arteta, Yossi Benayoun, Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos.

The near fortnight break for Euro 2012 qualifiers and international friendlies may have come at the right time for the North Londoners, who host Swansea on Saturday.

"We've had a good think about stuff [during the break]," Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey told Sky Sports News.

"We've brought in some new players and I think everything is going to be sort of a fresh start now so hopefully we can just get the three points and build on that and get ourselves back into the race."

While Arsenal are hoping for change, City and United want nothing of the sort after a perfect start to the season.

The champions make the short trip to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, where they could only draw 2-2 last season, and could give a first start of the campaign to Mexico striker Javier Hernandez who has been sidelined after a concussion.

The 23-year-old enjoyed a dream debut season with his goal-poaching knack winning him a regular starting spot as a partner to Wayne Rooney.

"Once he got into the team, he took his chance and the manager kept him in," Rooney told MUTV. "He repaid the manager with goals and was brilliant for us last season - a big reason why we won the league.

"I'm looking forward to him doing the same, if not scoring more goals for us, this season."

United have already scored 13 goals thanks to some inspired showings by a youthful team, and lead neighbours Manchester City, who have scored 12, on goal difference.


Roberto Mancini's City, who like United, Arsenal and Chelsea will have half an eye on next week's start to the Champions League group stage, host Wigan Athletic on Saturday and could be boosted by the return of Kolo Toure.

The Ivory Coast defender is free to play after serving a six-month doping ban, imposed after he took one of his wife's diet pills that contained a banned substance.

"Kolo looks fresh and in the kind of form that made him such an awesome central defender when Arsenal were at the top of their game," Micah Richards, who could also return after a hamstring injury, told the club website.

There could be a return from injury for Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, who resumed training slightly earlier than expected after a knee ligament problem to lift fans' hopes that he could be on the team-sheet for Saturday's trip to Sunderland.

Fourth-placed Chelsea are level on seven points with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool, who travel to FA Cup finalists Stoke City on Saturday.

The other team on the same points are Newcastle United, who travel to promoted Queens Park Rangers on Monday where they could come up against their former midfielder Joey Barton - one of several signings the London club made following last month's takeover by Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes.