Wenger promises 'surprise' signing

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The Independent Online
Arsene Wenger yesterday promised to sign a new striker before next month's transfer deadline, but on the eve of tonight's home match against Manchester United he said: "We are already good enough to win the Premiership."

Arsenal's coffers were swelled last week by the pounds 5m sale to West Ham of John Hartson, for whom the Gunners paid pounds 2.5m. That bit of business means Wenger can aim high in his search for a goalscorer. Ajax's Dutch international twins, Ronald and Frank de Boer, Milan's Marco Simone and Auxerre's Algerian midfielder, Moussa Saib, are thought to be on his list.

Wenger, whose team are two points behind United going into tonight's game - the first of a series in which all the leading Premiership title challengers visit Highbury, will not rush into the transfer market. "We will sign somebody for sure before the transfer deadline and it could be a surprise name," he said.

John Lukic continues to deputise for the England goalkeeper, David Seaman, and Arsenal's captain, Tony Adams, having tested his damaged ankle against Tottenham on Saturday, is fit to face United, but David Platt is still out with a hamstring injury. United are likely to have Nicky Butt and David May back after injuries.

Liverpool's manager, Roy Evans, also has first-team players back in action and so faces difficult choices. With only Phil Babb ruled out, Evans said ahead of the home League match with Leeds tonight: "Our hand has never been stronger.If we can get it right our destiny, in championship terms, is in our own hands."

The Leeds manager, George Graham, whose side went out of the FA Cup at the hands of First Division Portsmouth at Elland Road on Saturday, said: "If I dropped one player because of their form on Saturday, I would have to drop nine," he said.

Ian Rush hopes for a recall for the game at Anfield, but he expects no favours. He said "I know my old pals will be pulling everything out to send me away with no points to show for the night's work."

Les Ferdinand is relishing a head-to-head contest with his cousin Rio as Newcastle take on struggling West Ham at Upton Park. Les is poised to face the 18-year-old centre-back for the first time in a competitive match.

West Ham are without the suspended Slaven Bilic and Marc Rieper has an ankle injury so Rio will be handed the task of keeping 17-goal Les quiet.

West Ham's new strikers, Hartson and Paul Kitson, will make their home debuts.

Birmingham flotation, page 18

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