The Premier League threw up plenty of the usual talking points and drama over the weekend. Manchester United lost against West Ham, Manchester City won convincingly and Chelsea and Liverpool played out a draw.
Here, AMITAI WINEHOUSE assesses 10 things we learned from the seventh weekend of the Premier League season.
1. How, exactly, does Jack Wilshere get back into this West Ham side? It has now been three games since he was ruled out with an ankle injury. In that time, they have won two and drawn one, the latter coming against an, up to that point, perfect Chelsea side.
Throw in the record when Wilshere was in the side – five straight Premier League defeats and it is hard to see Manuel Pellegrini reaching any conclusion other than the obvious one.
That conclusion is that Mark Noble, Declan Rice and Pedro Obiang represents his best midfield currently. It would be a blow to Wilshere, who joined the Hammers with the hope of a return to first-team football in the top flight.
2. If Jose Mourinho and his coaching staff concluded after the Derby defeat that the answer was Scott McTominay at central defence, then something in their thinking needs reconsideration.
Mourinho has now used four different central defensive partnerships in the space of seven Premier League games. That instability at the back probably explains why they have conceded 12 goals already, a figure it took until 17 December for them to hit last season.
Think back to the Portuguese’s best teams. They were defined by brilliant defenders and brilliant coaching of those defenders. What United present now is little short of a shambles.
3. Daniel Sturridge did not just pull his goal against Chelsea out of nowhere. There was clearly an element of preparation to what seemed like a moment of pure inspiration.
After all, on Wednesday night he had taken exactly the same shot against exactly the same opposition. The only difference is that on Saturday it flew into the back of the net, rather than crashing into the bar as it did at Anfield.
It was also his first goal from outside the area in four and a half years. That hints at Jurgen Klopp noticing something he can work on at the training ground and improving it. At 29, that’s no mean feat.
4. Raheem Sterling is the fourth highest performing player on Fantasy Premier League. He, in real terms, has been involved in 35 goals since the start of last season, a figure bettered only by Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah.
His assist and strike against Brighton came as part of an otherwise brilliant display. Yet the narrative around him does not acknowledge that he is one of the Premier League’s best.
For example, only four per cent of Fantasy Premier League players have him in their teams. If we are to take that as symbolic, Sterling is vastly underrated relative to his productivity. That viewpoint must change soon.
5. Mesut Ozil started the week in the news for the wrong reasons — at the centre, again, of this ongoing storm over his decision to retire from Germany duty. He ended it as a key figure in Arsenal’s comfortable home win against Watford.
What Joachim Low did, pinning the blame on Ozil for not meeting him on a day off, will have done nothing to endear him to the German FA and reconsider his summer call. But Unai Emery did the right thing, telling him to focus on his Arsenal performances.
Ozil responded, scoring to take it to two in his last three. That’s a huge step up on a run of two in 18 games prior.
6. Tom Davies was handed the Everton armband at Arsenal and retained it for the Fulham game. It speaks for a wider trend in Marco Silva’s thinking.
At Goodison Park on Saturday, three academy graduates – Davies, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jonjoe Kenny – started the game. They are part of a highly-lauded generation and it is good to see them still getting opportunities around hugely expensive signings.
Davies, captain for two games in a row at just 20-years-old, now seems to have a settled place in Silva’s side. With England hoping more midfielders emerge, one might have already.
7. Whatever has been made of Tottenham’s occasional difficulties at the start of the season, it is becoming clear they were premature. They have now won five of their seven opening games.
Ditto Harry Kane. He struck two against Huddersfield, making him, ludicrously, the top scorer in the Premier League at the John Smith’s Stadium. The first was pure Kane – latching onto a Kieran Trippier cross. They are the Premier League’s most productive assist-goal pairing since the start of last season.
Other flashes of his quality also shone through. Kane is back – not that he ever really went away – and Spurs can go into the Barcelona game with no fear.
8. There were World Cup cult heroes and then there was Harry Maguire. By the end of the tournament in Russia, ‘Slabhead’ had taken on almost mythical proportions.
A switch also flipped for Maguire while with England. He scored a crucial goal against Sweden and seemed like a huge threat from every set-piece that was delivered into the box.
Claude Puel has maximised the use of Maguire from balls into the box this season, and he bagged again against Newcastle. His header there was his second goal this campaign in just seven games – it took all 38 to hit the same total last season.
9. This is not the same Wolves we have seen before. Look at the table, where they sit eighth, and that much is clear. Dig deeper and it becomes even more impressive.
They have managed a five game unbeaten run in the top flight for the first time since 1981. The 2-0 win against Southampton was only their 10th Premier League win by more than one goal. And they have done it by naming the same starting XI in all seven games, only the third team to do so.
Yes, they have more money and better players than ever before, but the team Nuno Espirito Santo has managed to forge is more than the sum of those parts.
10. Are Burnley back? No, not the team that launched themselves into a curtailed European tour, but the one that looked like shoo-ins for survival on their first season back up.
They have now won two on the spin and have got those crucial strikers firing Sam Vokes became Burnley’s second top scorer in the Premier League with his late goal. Johann Berg Gudmundsson continued his good form.
Wins against Cardiff and, last week, Bournemouth, are the sort that Sean Dyche will target to reach the 40 point mark he will almost certainly view as the expectation at Turf Moor. At the least, they are now getting them.