Quite a game, no? Nick Miller watched Arsenal's thrilling 1-1 draw with Everton and saw two teams who have improved, leaving certain others trailing...
In a Sunday Mailbox which is understandably dominated by Manchester United, there are a few little bits for the rest, specifically Chelsea & a Liverpool Christmas list...
Well, at least Owen Garvan and Florian Marange are going to be happy.
It was of course big/noble/honest of Ian Holloway to admit that the jig was up, and that he perhaps didn't have whatever Crystal Palace needed this season, and that it was time to bail. As Steve Parrish said on Wednesday, many managers would have clung on and waited to be sacked, jauntily shimmying into the sunset with a massive bag of cash.
The problem for Palace is that the damage is basically already done, and was done when Holloway eschewed strengthening an average Championship defence in favour of buying a bunch of average forwards to prepare for the rigours of the Premier League. Of course he had to replace the departed Wilfried Zaha and the injured Glenn Murray, but that doesn't mean he had to neglect his backline either.
"I have to hold my hand up and say we didn't keep the spirit that got us up. We changed too much too quickly," said Holloway, of course referring to the 16 players recruited over the summer. Obviously he's realising this too late, but Holloway seems to have recognised that the resources at his disposal should have been focused into fewer, better players rather than more, not terribly good ones. Much as Cardiff invested plenty in talents like Steven Caulker and Gary Medel, perhaps Palace should have paid more on less. Instead of paying, for example, ten players £15,000-a-week, perhaps giving four, theoretically better players £40,000-a-week would have been the way to go. And yes, I know the figures don't exactly match up - this is an illustrative point in a football column, not a maths lesson, nerd.
Maybe it's premature to say Palace are already down, but the signs from their first eight games are not good. They need nearly a point-a-game just to reach 31 points, which is the lowest total that would have kept a team up in the Premier League's 18 38-game seasons. To get to a more realistic survival target of 36/37/38 points...well, with the squad that Holloway assembled, it looks hopeless.
Of course, with 30 games to go, it isn't actually over. If they get a manager who can halfway organise their defence (hold your noses, Pulis-haters) and squeeze a few goals out of them, then they might have a chance.
Probably not this weekend though. They're playing Arsenal. Although having said that...
Of course, defeat to one of the best sides in Europe is not a sign that Arsenal are about to collapse like a poorly-made meringue, but they can't afford to follow one slip with another, given the run of fixtures they have coming up.
On Tuesday they have Chelsea in the Capital One Cup, the following Saturday Liverpool come-a-visitin' (and who thought that might be first v second in the tenth game of the season, eh?), then it's the return in Dortmund and after that a trip to Old Trafford.
A nice, quiet, injury-free kick of a team when they're down would do very nicely for the Gunners.
The only team in more of a state than Palace are Sunderland, but at least they have players of proven quality, making them slightly more realistic candidates for survival. Of course, QPR had plenty of decent players and a very good manager last season so, as football often proves to us, even the best ingredients do not always make a good cake.
In Sunderland's case, we're not really sure if he's a very good manager. He did a good job with a curious end at Brighton, but has no experience managing above the Championship, and is now thrown into the most chaotic of scenarios. Last weekend was something of a free pass, but on Sunday Newcastle are the opponents. Nobody will shrug and say 'Ah, never mind, it's early' if they lose that one.
"On one side, we have time," said Poyet this week. "But I don't want to go to the other side and say this game is a final. But at the end of the day, it's about winning a football game, and it needs to be now."
He continued: "It is clear that, over the eight games so far this season, the 11 players on the pitch week in, week out, haven't clicked yet, for whatever reason.
"The day I can tell you my team from one to 11 without any doubts, we will be in a good situation. Now, I have an idea of seven or eight, but there are still some places open."
Not being entirely familiar with the strengths or otherwise of his squad is perfectly understandable, given Poyet has only been working with most of them for a week. However, it does illustrate a problem that Poyet has, in that he really doesn't have much time to get to know his players. He basically has to get a season's-worth of points in 30 games, with barely any preparation time and with a collection of players not of his choosing. If there's anyone he requires he'll have to wait until January to bring them in, and by then it really might be too late.
It's close to being a thankless task, but one way of starting it off well would be a win against Newcastle. While it did him little good in the long-run, beating their local rivals helped Paolo Di Canio in the short-term. Poyet could do with that sort of boost.
The last time Newcastle and Sunderland faced each other, one Geordie got a little giddy and tried to punch a horse. By coincidence, that Geordie was up before the beak on Thursday, and was jailed for a year.
So even if you lose, ladies and chaps of the Toon, just cool your jets a little, eh?
Ludicrously, Manchester United have only won one game at home so far this season. And that was against Crystal Palace. When they won the league in 2010/11 they only dropped two points at Old Trafford. Over the end of 1993/94 and start of 94/95 they went 1,135 minutes over 14 games without even conceding a single goal at home.
The point is that Old Trafford is supposed to be something of a fortress for Manchester United. It's frequently been said that this intangible 'fear factor' left with Sir Alex Ferguson, and that seems most true at home. West Brom and particularly Southampton are perfectly good teams, but they should barely have a sniff of taking anything away from Old Trafford.
The same should be true of Stoke, the visitors this weekend, but given how events have unfolded in Manchester this season, they will be more hopeful than usual of coming away with something.
People watching Chelsea v Manchester City
Last season, this fixture was one of the most offensively tedious 90 minutes of football that anyone has ever had to endure. Hopefully, with a couple of new managers in place, a little more entertainment and fewer A4 posters will be in store.
Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini
He's entertaining, is Jose, but that entertainment frequently comes with no little unpleasantness.
One of his more needless and nasty barbs came when he was manager of Real Madrid, and he faced Manuel Pellegrini's Malaga. Asked about his opponent and predecessor at the Bernabeu, who had finished second with Real, having gained a record points total but had Pep Guardiola's Barcelona in their pomp ahead of him, Mourinho said: "Second place is just the first loser. If Madrid were to fire me, I wouldn't go to Malaga. I'd go to a top-level team in Italy or England."
Pellegrini reacted in typically restrained fashion, but Jose was at it again this summer, when he claimed there was more pressure on Pellegrini and City this season because of the amount of money on established players that City had spent. Chelsea of course were notably parsimonious over the transfer window.
These two big-spending behemoths come into this game on the back of solid wins from potentially-tricky Champions League away trips, and establishing themselves back in the top four after vaguely iffy starts to the season.
If results on Saturday go their way, the winner of this game could have the chance to go top of the Premier League. One wonders what Mourinho would have to say about Pellegrini if Chelsea manage it.
"We have a certain philosophy of football where we try to defend high up the pitch, taking a lot of risks. To have the ball as far away as possible from our goal is when we feel safest and most positive about our play. We are working to manage the risks and reduce them as much as possible. And it is down as much as possible to the players who are executing that philosophy.
"I am very proud of the performance of the players, they are the main actors in this. I am very happy for the club and happy that we are keeping this amazing defensive record. And I am happy for the chairman because he is the creator who over the years has given shape to this project that we have for the future.
"We work as we live, as we understand football. Not always do we have a double session (training). It depends on the physical fitness of the players and how many games we have ahead in that week or the weeks ahead. It is all down to planning and the physical tasks we want the players to accomplish. It is how we engage with how the players are doing, not just physically but also psychologically."
I have nothing to add to that from Mauricio Pochettino. I just thought it was interesting and thought it should be shared.
Villa are a pretty curious team at the moment. Their three wins this season have come against Arsenal, Manchester City and Norwich - the first two of those could, if one was being particularly harsh, be written off as freak results. Aside from a spell in the second half, they were particularly rotten against Spurs last weekend, and their inexperienced squad could quite easily find themselves sucked into trouble if they play like that much more.
With Holloway gone and Fulham having nabbed a couple of wins, the Norwich boss is the new favourite to be next manager to leave his post. Hughton's side face Cardiff on Saturday, who are just a point above them in the table. After thumpings by Chelsea and Arsenal, three points are needed to keep the sacking wolf from the door. Which sounds like the worst children's book character ever.
In two games Signor Allardici has tried this 'strikerless' formation. Once it worked, once it didn't. When it worked, the manager was a genius, when it didn't, well, they were playing Manchester City so it wasn't his fault, was it?
At the very least, it will be interesting to see whether or not Allardyce goes for the false nine approach again against Swansea.
Returning to White Hart Lane with Hull this Sunday, what odds on Huddlestone scoring then shaving off that afro on the pitch?
Of course, it would be a rather more tangible victory if Huddlestone can outplay the midfielders that stood in his path while he was a Spurs player.
Nick Miller - follow him on Twitter