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Arsenal v Norwich City: Arteta hopes for fresh start after international break

FOOTBALL By Reuters | September 10th 2021
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Emile Smith Rowe look dejected after the match against Brentford on August 13 2021. [Reuters]

Mikel Arteta believes the international break came at the right time for his Arsenal side as they try to overturn a dreadful start to the Premier League season.

A 5-0 hammering at champions Manchester City heading into the break left Arsenal bottom of the table with three defeats from their first three games and no goals scored.

Arteta's side host fellow strugglers Norwich City on Saturday with the pressure growing on the Spaniard.

However, he believes the two-week pause has given him time to get players back from injury and bed in new signings.

"We needed some break to try and get players back. Hopefully by Saturday we will have a different team," he told a news conference on Thursday.

"We have a completely different squad. It's unheard of. Now we have to make it work, we have to glide it together, build relationships, chemistry and understanding. We have to do that really quickly."

New signing Ben White is available for Saturday as are Gabriel Magalhaes, Eddie Nketiah and Thomas Partey, although Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka is suspended following his sending off against Manchester City.

"I'm really looking forward to having everyone available and to try start the season the way we want," Arteta said.

"We don't want to use any excuses. We know how difficult the start was with injuries and COVID issues we had. We have to reset now. We need to get everybody back on track and start to win football games which is what we have to do".

Should Arsenal lose to Norwich it would be the first time they have lost their first four games of a league campaign since 1923, while never in their history have they failed to score a goal in their opening four league games.

Arsenal fans are growing increasingly impatient but Arteta, who replaced fellow Spaniard Unai Emery in December 2019, said that there was a long-term project in place at Arsenal.

"We have tried to explain the project and the decisions that have been made over the last few months. The amount of changes in the past two years is almost 30 players," he said.

"It's a project that we believed in and we all take responsibility. Now we have to make it work."

Whether he is allowed to continue leading the project will depend very much on Arsenal quickly climbing the table.

"The pressure is always there to be as high as possible in that league table. It's down to us to provide everything we have," added Arteta.

New Japanese defensive signing Takehiro Tomiyasu's hopes of making his debut hinge on a work-permit.

"The club is working hard to try and achieve that in the next couple of hours," Arteta said of the player signed for around 18 million pounds ($24.91 million) from Bologna.

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