By Michael Hann
ARSENAL and Manchester City meet at The Emirateson Saturday (2.45pm) when both teams will seek to roar into life after making spluttering starts to their Premier League campaigns.
A month after demolishing City 3-0 in the Community Shield at Wembley, seventh-placed Arsenal have failed to reach the same high notes, drawing their last two league matches and losing French striker Olivier Giroud to injury.
While a shortage of strikers cannot be blamed for City’s inconsistent start, manager Manuel Pellegrini said they lacked a creative spark when they slipped to a surprise 1-0 home defeat by Stoke City last time out.
In a bid to ease their attacking woes, Arsenal snapped up Danny Welbeck on the final day of the transfer window and the former Manchester United striker is confident his style of play will fit in perfectly at The Emirates.
“I’ve envisaged myself playing in this team before. For it to finally happen is very exciting,” said Welbeck, who scored both goals in England’s opening Euro 2016 qualifying campaign victory over Switzerland on Monday.
“At Arsenal, we’re not short of combination football and I like to join in on that and get in behind defenders and try to get shots off at goal. I want to score some goals and help the team to achieve the right results.”
Along with Giroud, midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who has scored in two of Arsenal’s three Premier League games this season, could miss today’s clash after twisting his ankle in Wales’ 2-1 win over Andorra on Tuesday.
Champions City, so potent in front of goal last season, head to north London having let Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo join Valencia, while in-form forward Stevan Jovetic, who scored two goals against Liverpool, is struggling with a hamstring injury.
“It will be difficult, but I’m an optimist,” said Bosnia striker Edin Dzeko, who could lead City’s attack against Arsenal.
Table-toppers Chelsea have suffered no problems in front of goal this season thanks largely to the efforts of Diego Costa but the Spaniard could miss the encounter with second-placed Swansea City at Stamford Bridge (5pm) because of a leg injury.
Costa, who has scored four goals in three appearances for Chelsea this season, pulled out of Spain’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Macedonia on Monday with a hamstring injury and his absence would come as a blow to manager Jose Mourinho.
“He produced a fantastic performance in every aspect,” Mourinho said after Costa netted twice against Everton in Chelsea’s 6-3 victory at Goodison Park. “Diego is maybe the best player in the league in these first three matches.”
If Costa fails to recover in time then French striker Loic Remy, who joined from local rivals Queens Park Rangers, could make his
Chelsea debut against a Swansea side that have looked well organised under inexperienced manager Garry Monk.
West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Irvine faces Everton, the club where he spent time as assistant manager to David Moyes and more recently as academy manager, but Roberto Martinez says there will be no room for sentiment on Saturday.
“He (Irvine) did a terrific job at our club in different roles and we wish him the very best of luck in his new project – but just not for this weekend,” said the Everton boss.
Tottenham Hotspur will be hoping to get back on track against Sunderland (5pm) after their steady start came crashing down with a 3-0 home defeat by Liverpool.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Liverpool host Aston Villa (7.30pm), Southampton entertain Newcastle United, Stoke City face Leicester City and Burnley travel to Crystal Palace (all 5pm) hoping to build on their draw against Manchester United.
On Sunday, an air of mystery will descend on Old Trafford when Manchester United face QPR (6pm) with manager Louis van Gaal looking to accommodate a squad that includes strikers Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and new loan signing Radamel Falcao.
Dutch striker Van Persie is confident Van Gaal will find the right blend to reignite a disjointed United side that have claimed two points from their first three matches.
“It’s plain and simple. The manager chooses his tactics,” Van Persie said. “We, the players, have nothing else to do than to execute what the manager has in his mind.
“Tactics and formation are matters of the manager and his staff, not something the players must get involved in.”
Eleventh-placed West Ham United travel to Hull City in Monday’s only fixture (10pm).