By Adam Clark
It was all change at Manchester City this summer and the clean slate looks to have had an immediate impact on their fortunes.
The boardroom takeover of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra led to the managerial appointment of ex-England boss Sven Goran Eriksson, and together the pair set about rebuilding a City squad which, until earlier this month, had not scored at home since New Year's Day. So far seven new signings, and academy products such as Michael Johnson and Micah Richards, have transformed the Eastlands club, propelling them to three wins from three and the top of the Barclays Premier League table.
City's next assignment couldn't be much tougher - a trip to Emirates Stadium to face an Arsenal side yet to suffer defeat this season. Can City prolong their dream start? We spoke to Chris Bailey of the Manchester Evening News who told us why City need to keep investing and how Eriksson will look to consider Arsène Wenger's philosophy when building his team.
THE STORY SO FAR
"I'd say it's been a good start but not entirely unexpected. We beat West Ham last year and Derby have just come up - it was the third victory, the Manchester derby, that capped it. Manchester United had more possession, more corners, more shots but as City found out last season even when you're playing well you don't always find the back of the net. We've built around some solid defensive work but the whole team has played relatively well."
MAN OF THE MOMENT
"I think Manchester City fans were open-minded when Sven was appointed. He's proven to be a great club manager and the fans trusted the board to make the right decision. I think people have a high respect level because of what he did at Benfica and Lazio. He's obviously been a successful club manager and he's made a good start here. Like Sven, Thaksin Shinawatra was warmly welcomed. Money talks and if you look at who wins the Barclays Premier League every year it's the team who spends the most money, in the best way. Even when Blackburn won the title Jack Walker was spending big sums on people like Alan Shearer. It's a fact of life that you have to spend big to get the best. Any teams with ambitions of finishing in the top six nowadays have got to spent money. Manchester City were a club who needed a takeover to compete. We won't know if money is an issue until next season when maybe they'll need to spend another £40million to keep it going. The key is to keep investing."
CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM
"I think City have got to set their sights on somewhere between fifth and tenth place in the Premier League. There are a lot of new players already and maybe more to come. Most people probably thought it would take until November for the side to gel but in fact they've done it so quickly that it's raised the bar. Instead of ninth or tenth, they're now looking at sixth or seventh. That would be the aim. I think they just need to keep doing what they're doing. They've not conceded yet and they're a young team who will naturally improve. The players are 20, 21 years old and players who don't know English football. In that sense I don't think they need to do an awful lot apart from keep on going how they are."
THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO...
"Micah Richards, Michael Johnson and Richard Dunne are the ones who were already here, and it looks like Richards and Dunne are the lynchpins at the back now. Richards has been outstanding since he moved inside from right back. I think you'll find Sven will build his side in the way Arsène Wenger did at Arsenal. He'll look for young players who will grow together and improve together, and he said as much earlier in the week. There will be similarities in that he'll not always spend vast amounts of money, but look for youngsters. He's shown it already. Javier Garrido, Stephen Ireland, Michael Johnson, Micah Richards, Valeri Bojinov, Gelson Fernandes, they're all young players who he thinks will grow together."
IMPRESSIONS OF ARSENAL
"Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Freddie Ljungberg, Dennis Bergkamp - look at the luminaries who have gone in recent seasons. And William Gallas and Jens Lehmann are out injured. You have to say it is a team in transition but we saw firsthand at City three seasons ago when Arsenal brought up an Under-21 side for League Cup game and knocked a full-strength City team out. You could see then that they're not going to struggle for players coming through. I expect Arsenal to finish in the top four again because they play some of best football in the League, the kind you'd pay to watch. But it will be a good game on Saturday. City are a more confident team than Arsenal will have faced and they've not given a goal away yet. It should be a close contest."