Obviously quite a bit of the admin in the Champions League group stage is already done, dusted and polished, but Daniel Storey finds five matches that still have plenty at stake...
Moyes is lacking 'charismatic authority', Kieran Gibbs is defended, Chelsea's problems are examined and a dreadful chant attacked. It's a glorious mailbox...
Another hard-fought 1-0 victory that leaves the Reds top of the pile and the only team with a 100% record. After Liverpool won just three of their first 14 matches last season (against Norwich, Reading and Wigan), Brendan Rodgers will be delighted to see his players mark the new campaign with three wins from three and their best start since 1994/95. They finished fourth that year, too.
Liverpool's success at Aston Villa in their previous game provided the perfect preparation for the clash against Manchester United, with the Reds digging deep in both matches to hold on to early leads. It wasn't pretty to watch on Sunday and a scrappy Liverpool display was illustrated by the Reds making almost double (31 v 17) the number of tackles as their opponents. But they battled, made very few mistakes and deserved to edge a peculiar encounter in which a sloppy and subdued United took an age to finally get going.
Rodgers must have been relieved to see his team earn a victory against one of the division's heavyweights after leading Liverpool to only three wins in 18 attempts against the other sides in the top half last season. Although they fought back to grab a 3-2 victory over Spurs in March (incidentally, that was the last time they averaged less than 50% possession before Sunday), clashes against stronger opponents were generally characterised by the Reds throwing away the advantage. Leads were lost against United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea as an error-prone side buckled under the pressure.
It was therefore fascinating (and encouraging to Rodgers) to see Liverpool remain resilient for the second week running as they stood up to United's increased domination in the second half. The champions were some way below their best but, as Nick Miller said here, an industrious Liverpool team suffocated their opponents and worked hard to close the space. It was a performance of compromise as creative talents Philippe Coutinho and the disappointing Iago Aspas struggled to get involved in the game while the energetic Jordan Henderson bounded around the pitch like the Duracell bunny after seven Red Bulls and a pack of Pro Plus.
Henderson, who looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights at the start of last season, epitomises Liverpool's gradual improvement under Rodgers after forcing his way into the manager's plans mid-way through the previous campaign. The 23-year-old's Liverpool career is somewhat reminiscent of Lucas Leiva's uneasy start to life at Anfield and both midfielders underlined their importance (particularly with regard to Rodgers being able to adapt his tactics to a more defensive display) with all-action, combative performances on Sunday - Lucas again showing he is a master of the tactical foul.
Daniel Sturridge's contribution was also an indication of the maturity he has gained from working with Rodgers. There were occasions against United when the old Sturridge - the one who arrived at Liverpool from Chelsea in January - would have ceded possession by either attempting an elaborate pass or a shot from a ludicrous angle. On Sunday, however, the birthday boy was careful not to waste his rare moments with the ball, trying his best to hold on before support arrived. That he managed an average pass completion rate of 76% (compare that to Olivier Giroud's average of 38% for Arsenal against Spurs) despite largely being isolated shows that he is learning at long last.
Liverpool's acquisition of Victor Moses and Mamadou Sakho (who proves Rodgers was right to remain patient in his pursuit of a new defender) will add vital competition for places, while Luis Suarez is due to return when the Reds and United reconvene for the League Cup third round on September 25. Rodgers has hinted that the club's business is now over, but he was understandably disappointed to miss out on Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Willian and it still appears that he needs one more quality attacker and another option in central midfield - ideally back-up for Lucas - if the team are to build on their current form and maintain a top-four challenge.
It must also be said that the scenes at the final whistle did appear rather similar to Arsenal's much-mocked celebrations after securing fourth on the final day of last season. As Jamie Carragher said on Sky Sports, Liverpool must remember that they should be picking up points in the tougher tests if they have any real ambition of returning to the top four in the near future.
One final point, further to discussion of Simon Mignolet's kicking ability last week, is that the keeper again demonstrated why Rodgers values this skill so highly. As Liverpool tried to maintain possession with around five minutes remaining, Andre Wisdom played the ball back to Mignolet who promptly hoofed it forward straight to Patrice Evra. There wasn't a Liverpool player within ten yards and suddenly United were on the attack, eventually winning a free-kick in a dangerous position on the right side of the box. Rodgers will surely expect better of his £9million number one in future.
After I questioned Giroud's contribution repeatedly last season, it seems the striker is determined to make me look a fool this time around. Despite his wayward passing, the Frenchman played a crucial role in Arsenal's win over Spurs and took his winning strike superbly. "I know them (my teammates) and they know me so we find each other without opening our eyes," said Giroud after the match, when explaining that his understanding with Theo Walcott has improved over pre-season.
The striker's goal was his 14th in the Premier League (all of which have been scored in London) and his first match-winning strike in the top flight since his move from Montpellier. I'm still not entirely convinced Giroud is the right man to lead the line (nor is Wenger, presumably, after his failed bid for Luis Suarez) and Arsenal still require more experienced back-up than Yaya Sanogo, but the forward's early form has been hugely encouraging.
Arsenal and Arsene Wenger
Firstly, to Mesut Ozil. If reports of a deal for the playmaker are true, then Arsenal have somehow pulled the signing of the summer out of the bag despite months (years?) of dithering. While it can be argued that they don't necessarily need a player of Ozil's type, the 24-year-old's arrival would still be a game-changer. He is quite simply one of the best footballers on the planet and it would be an absolute joy to see him in the Premier League.
Now, to the football. As Nick Miller has already provided lengthy analysis of Arsenal's win in 16 Conclusions, I'll refrain from going into too much depth. So no videos of cute animals on this occasion, I'm afraid.
"To sum it up, their best player was the goalkeeper," said Arsene Wenger after Sunday's victory. He was right and he enjoyed saying it, with a smile as cunning as Ozil's craft creeping across his face. After all the hype before the match about Spurs' expensively assembled new team, it was a win for the purist and his two free transfers. Perhaps a fitting denouement to Wenger's long-term philosophy before he smashes Arsenal's transfer record on a busy day of splurging.
There were plenty of similarities between the north London derby and the early kick-off at Anfield, with both home sides grabbing an early lead before allowing their opponents the lion's share of possession with which they failed to create clear-cut chances. Arsenal played with authority against Spurs and it's clear that they are responding to Wenger's unwavering faith in their quality. "We are a good team," was the message from Theo Walcott before kick-off and Aaron Ramsey in the post-match interview and neither player looked as though they were bluffing. And why shouldn't they believe the manager? After all, Arsenal have won 13 and lost just one of their last 16 matches in all competitions.
Ramsey continued his current habit of impressive performances on Sunday, making more tackles (seven) than any other player on the pitch, while Santi Cazorla was full of ideas when he had possession. Although the Gunners ceded much of the ball to Spurs - averaging just 43% possession and a surprisingly poor pass accuracy of 74% (that wasn't helped by Giroud, of course) - the visitors enjoyed nothing more than what Wenger would term 'sterile domination'. The Spurs handbrake was on and whenever they did produce a rare moment of ingenuity the threat was quickly snuffed out by Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.
With four consecutive victories, Arsenal have swiftly banished the memories of the opening-day defeat to Aston Villa when the 'spend, spend, spend' signs were out in force. If Wenger does complete a move for Ozil and possibly one or two more (you would hope), then he can rightly claim that his decision to wait until all the cards were on the table has been vindicated. But of course, there is still a strong chance that a final day of disappointment will follow a summer of the same. More on that in Tuesday's Transfer Window Winners And Losers.
A first win earned with a lively performance against Sunderland. Palace were somewhat fortunate recipients of a John O'Shea clusterf**k, but they gave everything to pick up their first points of the campaign amid a tremendous atmosphere at Selhurst Park. Considering just how out of their depth Palace are in the Premier League, it's difficult for any praise not to sound patronising and criticism excessive. The players battled, Ian Holloway danced, but can they do it all over again on another nine or ten occasions? And if not, can we still keep the eagle?
Man City, despite hairy moments
Back to winning ways if not an entirely convincing performance against a Hull team who look a damn sight better than most (including myself) gave them credit for. Indeed, if it weren't for Sone Aluko's 'Alukoway now' moment (Ed - Apologise (No, I won't apologise (Ed - Apologise right now (Fine. Sorry)))) then City may have faced a second embarrassing result in quick succession against one of the newly promoted sides.
City will surely improve (although whether Martin Demichelis is the man to shore up the defence is another question) and in Alvaro Negredo they have a striker who offers intelligent movement in the penalty area. According to Opta, only Bayer Leverkusen's Stefan Kiessling has scored more headed goals than Negredo in the top five European leagues since Aug 2012 and, after missing one chance to open the scoring with his head, the striker made no mistake of the second opportunity that came his way.
Swansea and Michu's chance creation
Michael Laudrup was right not to be worried about his team's slow start and Swansea's class oozed all over the Hawthorns on Sunday, leaving Steve Clarke with a terrible mess to clean up. To put Michu's seven key passes into perspective, no player has managed more than ten in total after three games of the new campaign.
Stoke and an ambitious top-half prediction
I tipped Stoke for a top-half finish when Mark Hughes was appointed at the start of summer and, while the Potters' lack of transfer activity compared to a number of their mid-table rivals has reduced my confidence in that prediction, they have made a steady start to the season with two wins thus far. West Ham had the seventh best home record last season so Hughes will no doubt be delighted at sneaking a late victory at Upton Park and, if he can add one or two new faces on Monday, Stoke will be in a better position to progress ahead of the next test at home to Man City.
Loan signing Marko Arnautovic is a potential replacement for Mario Balotelli in the badboy stakes, with the Austrian once telling a police officer: "I earn so much, I can buy your life."
Following a rare Blackburn win under Steve Kean in 2011/12, a wise man (Nick Miller) told me a stopped clock is right twice a day and after 24 hours investigating his claim, I found that he was correct.
I was reminded of this bonding session during Newcastle's victory over Fulham on Saturday, when the Magpies huffed and puffed and were eventually rewarded by Hatem Ben Arfa's moment of magic. Make no mistake, this was another performance devoid of imagination against a Fulham side equally lacking in creativity and seemingly destined to spend the season scrapping in the bottom half. That Newcastle had nine shots on target and 25 in total only serves to emphasise that statistics are not always reliable. Apart from Ben Arfa, they were less threatening than a cuddle from your nan.
I wrote in depth about how Newcastle's win won't change anything in the long term and stand by the point that I honestly don't believe Alan Pardew could provide a conclusive explanation as to why or how his team were victorious other than pointing to Ben Arfa's brilliance. The Magpies hustled and showed the requisite amount of determination to sneak a 1-0 home win over Fulham, but considering the standard of the opposition, it's only right to expect more from the players Pardew has available. Perhaps they are finding their feet after a long and difficult season, but right now the performances of both the manager and the team leave much to be desired.
Everton's goal threat
A second match without scoring highlights the Toffees' need for another striker with Nikica Jelavic still in something of a funk as he tries to rediscover his form. At £6million, was Arouna Kone really the answer to Everton's lack of firepower? Roberto Martinez had better hope so.
Considering the Saints' sizeable investment over the summer, you would expect them to put up more of a fight in away trips against the likes of Norwich. The jury is still very much out on Mauricio Pochettino and one win in the last nine Premier League matches simply isn't good enough.
"We haven't had enough time at this moment to put the team together. The players did extremely well, just not enough to come away with something," said Andre Villas-Boas after Spurs' disappointing defeat to Arsenal. The manager's concerns were clear and, as I wrote here, it is unlikely he will be given the patience he both requires and deserves to get Spurs up and running.
On paper, two wins and a narrow defeat away to one of last season's top four is not the worst start in the world, but there are worries over Spurs' failure to score from open play thus far. Aside from Michael Dawson's brain fade in the first half, they appeared pretty solid against Arsenal but devoid of ideas in the attacking third.
At the moment Spurs have numbers rather than options. Paulinho, Mousa Dembele, Etienne Capoue and Sandro are much of a muchness in midfield and a lot is required of Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela to get the best out of Roberto Soldado.
Man United, Moyes and an embarrassing transfer window
It is important not to overreact to David Moyes' first defeat as Manchester United manager or the fact that his record of failing to win away at one of the old 'big four' continues. The optimists will focus on a second-half performance in which the team improved markedly; the pessimists will wonder why the champions started so slowly and created only two real chances of note - Robin van Persie's sliced effort after the break and Danny Welbeck's blocked shot inside the box in the first half. In truth, there wasn't much to be pleased about, but a 1-0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield is hardly the most unpredictable or disastrous result and United's points tally from the first three matches is exactly the same as their total last season in those three fixtures.
While Liverpool deserve credit for their dogged display, this doesn't negate the blame that must be apportioned to United for a first half reminiscent of Arsenal's bemused performances in the first 45 minutes on several occasions last season. They were sloppy and timorous, with Michael Carrick, who averaged a pass accuracy of just 69% in the first half (the lowest of any United player including David De Gea), and Ryan Giggs enormously wasteful in possession. How Giggs stayed on until the 73rd minute is beyond me.
Although United improved to dominate the game after half time, Moyes' assertion that it was "the best we've played this season" was unashamedly Fergie-like in its obstinacy. Ferguson would probably have also started Giggs, it must be said, and failed to find a role for Shinji Kagawa (who didn't even make the squad) in a typically fast and furious fixture. But Ferguson would also have got more out of a team that was repeatedly described as ordinary last year despite a record-breaking run to the title. He will no doubt be increasingly lauded for taking this team to a last hurrah should Moyes' boys fail to rise to the challenge, but the master is also guilty of leaving a difficult task for the apprentice. There are players who featured on Sunday who are simply not United class.
In some ways this is a benefit to Moyes, whose failings against Liverpool may be disguised by the fans' desperate focus on signing a new midfielder. Although United beat Liverpool at Anfield last season, this year the hole in midfield was responsible for defeat seemingly more so than the manager. Tom Cleverley again proved that he is not good enough to play every week for a title-chasing side, while a central trio of the 24-year-old, Carrick and Danny Welbeck is hugely uninspiring. Throw in Giggs and Ashley Young on the wings and it's no wonder Robin van Persie became visibly frustrated at the lack of service he received.
This problem could have been aided by Kagawa playing in behind the striker with Welbeck, whose defensive qualities are better used on the wing, shifting to the left in place of Young. That Moyes opted for Nani and Alexander Buttner on the bench (even Javier Hernandez would do a better job at left-back) smacks of a crippling lack of imagination and possibly even a fear of working out how to use a player as technically gifted as Kagawa. As one wag said on Twitter, if Kagawa doesn't fit into your system, it's a pretty good sign that you need new tactics. And that's certainly true of Moyes after two games without scoring and very few opportunities in front of goal.
"From what I saw today, I'm more than happy with what I've got...I wouldn't be worried if I didn't add to the squad," said the manager in his post-match interview. Presumably he is managing expectations after holding an interest in a long list of players this summer and watching as they either spurned United's advances or the club failed to strike a deal. According to Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde, Ander Herrera now won't be moving to Old Trafford on deadline day, with reports that United's last hope is to hijack Arsenal's move for Ozil.
In truth, the club's transfer activity has been as untidy and embarrassing as Sunday's first half. If the plan at the start of the summer was to sign two midfielders before the end of the window then, as the champions of England, you had better make damn sure you sign those players. If it reaches September 2 and Marouane Fellaini is the best you can do - and for several million pounds more than his release clause that expired in July - then you know you've failed. You know that while everyone has been busy laughing at Arsenal, your pathetic attempts to sign players have been equally risible, perhaps even more so considering you stood a better chance of attracting the top talent.
It is set to be a busy 12 or so hours and one wonders how truly happy Moyes will be should there be no new arrivals before Tuesday morning.
West Brom's tight pursestrings
A crippling lack of creativity and some particularly poor defending did for West Brom against Swansea, with the grumbles around the Hawthorns becoming increasingly vocal. The fans are rightly aggrieved at a lack of spending when Norwich, Southampton and Swansea have all made the most of the new TV revenue. Despite losing Romelu Lukaku, there was an opportunity to kick on this season, but progress now depends on Steve Clarke getting the best out of largely the same squad as last year.
'Fire, Belief, Desire'
Three words that Paolo Di Canio said over and over in his post-match interviews following Sunderland's defeat to Crystal Palace. You have to wonder what talented players such as Emanuele Giaccherini and Steven Fletcher make of the manager's tunnel vision.
Having the right mental approach will only get you so far in the Premier League, the rest is down to the manager's ability to set his team up to win and even before John O'Shea's red card on Saturday, Sunderland didn't deserve three points. It's often claimed that ex-pros should work their way up through the leagues when they move into management but Di Canio, and Paul Ince before him, prove that this 'guts and glory' approach doesn't translate to the top flight. These are some of the best players in the game and it's unlikely they'll respond to a waving fist.
Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.