Five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend
The first month of the Premier League is in the books ahead of next week’s international break and the closing of the transfer window.
We take a look at the talking points to emerge from the third round of top-flight fixtures.
1. The title race is beginning to take shape
Three teams have maintained their 100% records after three fixtures – Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, all of whom will expect to be in the table’s upper echelons come May.
The next fixture in the division just so happens to see a meeting between two of them, pitting old foes Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford in perhaps the most eagerly anticipated Manchester derby ever.
One or both will drop points but the worry for Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and others is that they are already losing ground in the race for a Champions League berth next season.
2. There’s plenty of work needed ahead of transfer deadline
For many managers, the first three games have confirmed what they have been bleating on about for weeks: reinforcements are needed.
There are just three days left in this transfer window and some clubs need to get busy to ensure this trio of fixtures does not become a microcosm of their season.
Tony Pulis wants five players in at West Brom, bottom-of-the-table Stoke could use a striker and a centre-back, Burnley have to address their lack of depth in a week when their fringe players were beaten by League Two Accrington in the EFL Cup and Hull cannot survive with the paucity of senior figures currently on their books.
3. Mike Phelan should be manager of the month
With all of the August fixtures completed, attention will turn to who should win manager of the month for the first time this term.
Guardiola, Mourinho and Antonio Conte may have all won three from three in their starts at the helm, but none of them have worked the wonders Mike Phelan has at Hull.
Parachuted into a position he still only temporarily holds, with only 14 senior players to select, Phelan was minutes away from making it seven points from nine before his old club Manchester United mustered a late winner.
Uncertainty continues to surround the Tigers, but Phelan’s start has surely ensured he deserves the gig on a full-time basis.
4. Raheem Sterling is rejuvenated
If Phelan is August’s manager of the month, Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling should come into consideration for the players’ award.
The 21-year-old is reborn after a disappointing Euro 2016 and has been perhaps the most improved player since Guardiola’s arrival. Having shone in both of City’s opening two fixtures, he scored twice in their victory over West Ham when City were irrepressible in the first half.
New England boss Sam Allardyce will get to work with Sterling for the first time next week and he should be on the phone to Guardiola to ask him how he can get Sterling firing too.
5. Ronald Koeman’s transformed Everton already
Goodison Park was far from a happy hunting ground for the hosts last year. Roberto Martinez managed just two home league wins after November and a fanbase that swiftly turned against their manager often vented their frustration with his tactics, making it an uncomfortable environment.
Everything’s changed under new boss Ronald Koeman, who has taken seven points from his first three games despite warning it would take time to build the Toffees according to his vision.
Koeman has solidified the defence, a bugbear for Everton fans under Martinez, and has only reinvested what he has brought in in the transfer window. Things are looking up on the blue half of Merseyside.