Manchester United and Chelsea make bizarre table-toppers after pretty unconvincing campaigns against poor opposition, while Manuel Pellegrini was a silly boy...
On a weekend when just about everybody else around them dropped points, why should Liverpool's title hopes be dismissed? David Moyes is a loser, of course...
A record-equalling tenth successive away victory and a fine start in the toughest Champions League group. As Arsene Wenger said on Tuesday, ten points should be enough to progress from Group F while 12 would likely see Arsenal finish in top spot. After beating Marseille 2-1, the Gunners need only win their three home matches to look forward to an 11th consecutive year in the knockout stage.
'Need only' is perhaps putting it lightly, as Borussia Dortmund will play to win at the Emirates on October 22 and Rafa Benitez's Napoli to not lose in the next match on October 1. This group will test Arsenal's every strength and every weakness as Wenger's small squad seek to maintain their challenge in Europe and in the Premier League.
The Gunners impressed on Wednesday and were never really fazed by the threat of Marseille, who are expected to be the group strugglers after bringing a knife to a gun fight. As André-Pierre Gignac's wild early effort ballooned away for an Arsenal throw-in, it was clear that the hosts lacked the firepower to trouble a defence that has kept nine clean sheets in the last 18 matches stretching back to the 2-0 win in Munich - the only fixture in which Bayern failed to score last season.
Marseille huffed and puffed, with Gianelli Imbula making several driving runs through midfield, but Arsenal eventually settled in the second half, taking the lead thanks to Jeremy Morel's woeful defending and a fine Theo Walcott volley, and extending it through Aaron Ramsey's sixth strike in six matches.
There were negatives to Arsenal's performance, of course, with Ramsey later conceding a fourth penalty for Wojciech Szczesny to face this season - a poor mistake in a group where goal difference could be crucial. Only Wigan made more individual errors leading to goals than Arsenal in the Premier League last year and clearly the Gunners must work to eradicate their clumsiness in the box. Laurent Koscielny especially.
Walcott drifted in and out of the game and, as I wrote here, it's about time the winger rediscovered his devastating pre-contract form. His ability to time his runs and play on the shoulder of the last defender has undoubtedly improved, but he continues to lack consistency. Arsenal desperately need the 24-year-old to ease the burden on Olivier Giroud and also provide a convincing back-up to the Frenchman in a centre-forward role if required.
Speaking of which, that moment could come sooner than Wenger would hope, and perhaps even as early as Sunday's clash against Stoke at the Emirates. Giroud looked out of sorts - out of recent sorts, anyway - in Marseille but was left on for the full 90 minutes, presumably owing to his defensive work and the absence of a replacement on the bench. Wenger confessed that the striker has been struggling with a knee problem after last week's win at Sunderland, and it may be wise to rest him on Sunday to avoid exacerbating the concern.
Anyone who wipes the smug smile off Jose Mourinho's face is fine by me. We said Mohamed Salah would be a threat (hypocrisy indeed), and the pacy winger caused problems all night, curling in his second strike in as many matches against Chelsea to cancel out Oscar's opener. Could this season see a repeat of 2011/12 for the Swiss champions, when they progressed to the knock-out stage at the expense of Manchester United?
A stunning hat-trick to celebrate his new £76million contract and help Real Madrid thrash Galatasaray 6-1. The forward's third goal was sublime.
He can never let Ronaldo steal the show. Not even for one week.
A win in the opening game of the group stage at the third attempt for Man City, who broke free from their shackles in the second half to establish a 3-0 lead over Plzen in the space of ten minutes. Manuel Pellegrini's side have looked sluggish in their last three Premier League outings, but this was a comprehensive victory that should hopefully kick-start City's season.
There were several encouraging aspects of an excellent away performance, none more so than Sergio Aguero's lively contribution, which saw the Argentine grab his second goal of the new campaign with a neat turn and finish. It's no coincidence that when Aguero struggled for form and fitness last season, City also struggled, and the striker will be crucial to their hopes of challenging on two fronts.
Pellegrini said after City's victory that he doesn't intend to prioritise one competition over the other, but the manager's team selection on Tuesday was clearly stronger than in the tedious 0-0 draw with Stoke last Saturday. Vincent Kompany returned to partner Matija Nastasic in defence, Jesus Navas replaced James Milner on the wing and Fernandinho came in for Jack Rodwell in the centre of midfield. With Aguero and Edin Dzeko also replacing newbies Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo in attack, City looked a more complete unit.
Despite Plzen rarely threatening City's lead, Kompany will have benefited from a full game ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby. The fitness was certainly there, but the captain's concentration was lacking at one point in the first half when his weak backpass almost played in Daniel Kolar. Fortunately, Joe Hart was alert to the danger and, although the England keeper only had one shot on target to contend with throughout the match, he also dealt well with Plzen's seven corners.
City showed patience to earn their victory with sharp, intricate passing around the edge of the box helping to unlock the hosts and create the chances for Dzeko and Aguero to score. The goal of the night belonged to Yaya Toure, however, who made it three strikes in five appearances with his beautiful curling effort into the top corner.
A vital victory against last year's finalists to make it four wins out of four at the start of the new season.
"It was a tactically perfect game," said Napoli's tactician Rafa Benitez.
Manchester United and David Moyes
Who needs experience? Any Tom, Dick or Dave can do this gig.
United's 4-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen was their most convincing performance of the season thus far - in an attacking sense, at least - as Sami Hyppia's side did much to dispel the myth that all German teams are organised and hard to beat. Indeed, neither side demonstrated the German stereotype of efficiency as both Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie missed gilt-edged chances to make it an even better night for United.
As Sarah Winterburn wrote here, Marouane Fellaini's introduction provided a much greater balance to the champions' midfield, allowing Rooney less freedom to roam, as he desires. The striker played as a striker - by far his best role - as Moyes went against the grain of the now ubiquitous single centre-forward systems by partnering his best two players alongside each other in attack.
Of course, Rooney can still drop deeper when required, but he was given less restraint against Leverkusen as Moyes continued his smartest work of coaxing Mr Sulky out of his Blues blues following his failed move to Chelsea. "Listen, I'm concentrating on my football as I have done all summer. I've put my head down, worked hard to get myself fit for the season," snapped Rooney after being pressed on his current state of mind in his post-match interview with ITV.
What he really means is that he worked hard to get himself fit for a move to Chelsea but, after reaching his best physical condition for over a year, Rooney may as well make the most of his hard work by performing for the club who bent over backwards the last time he requested a transfer and for which he has now scored 200 goals. You have to wonder why most United fans at Old Trafford still choose to chant the name of a player who can't even bring himself to say that he's happy at the club.
Rooney's refusal to express his commitment has made United look more foolish than any letter proudly declaring Adnan Januzaj as a new signing, but the one person who seems to have a handle on the situation is David Moyes. All summer the manager refused to blink (incidentally, imagine a staring contest between Moyes and Mesut Ozil) and his hardball tactics have paid off in equal extent to his long diagonals. Rooney has returned to one of his pleasing purple patches at just the right time as fixtures against City and Liverpool await.
Tuesday's result should go some way in helping United mould their new identity under Moyes. The letter the club sent out to reassure frustrated fans claimed that 'the team does in fact have a different feel to it than the one that finished last season' and that is true to an extent following the arrival of a new manager and a new central midfielder the club had been crying out for.
Along with Nemanja Vidic's recovery from injury (the captain made only 23 appearances last year) and Rooney's return to the fold, United are gradually glueing themselves together for the long haul as they near the end of a difficult start to the season. City's sluggish form in the Premier League and Chelsea's embarrassing loss to Basel provide context for Moyes's performance so far and, on the whole, things are ticking along with few serious concerns.
An unlikely brace in PSG's 4-1 thrashing of Olympiacos, owing to some particularly poor defending from the hosts.
After kicking off the season with a shock 1-1 draw at home to Ajaccio (in which they had 77% possession and 39 shots to Ajaccio's single attempt), PSG have won their last four matches by an aggregate score of 10-2. Sunday's clash against fellow Ligue 1 big spenders Monaco should be a cracker.
Man United's next opponents and leading rival to top Group A began their Champions League campaign with a convincing 2-0 victory away to Real Sociedad. Shakhtar may have lost Willian, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Fernandinho in the last nine months, but their side is still packed with quality as Alex Teixera proved with two well-taken goals on Tuesday.
A 3-0 win over Steaua Bucharest, with Kevin-Prince Boateng scoring his second goal since his move from AC Milan, and an unexpected boost from Basel's result at Stamford Bridge. Schalke finished ahead of Arsenal in the group stage last season and will be aiming to inflict a tougher knock-out draw on Chelsea this time around.
Sacked by Wolves just over nine months ago after winning only ten of his 30 matches in charge and now managing in the Champions League. His Copenhagen side caused Juventus a scare, too.
What's Dean Saunders up to these days?
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Jurgen Klopp and Borussia Dortmund
Mourinho may have accepted the blame for Chelsea's defeat, and Klopp took the blame for Dortmund's collapse against Napoli. The crown slipped as he lost his cool when Napoli opened the scoring while Neven Subotic was off the pitch, but not for long. This is a lesson in how to alleviate the pressure on your players:
"In that moment I perceived the situation with Neven Subotic differently as it was. I thought the referee should have waited for Neven to come back. But he didn't have to do that. Neven could have come on earlier but was held back because there was a little bloodstain on the plaster. I apologised straight after the game to the fourth official, the referee and my team as my emotions turned a game we didn't play well in into a hectic one. The second half with a man down was okay. On good days, when the coach keeps his cool, we might get a result. Our start wasn't best, mine included. Had we played to our level we could have won the game. In this group everything is still possible. We will not throw anything away. We lost an away game, nothing else."
So brave. So very brave.
Two wins in their last 25 group stage matches. Aren't the Belgians supposed to be brilliant?
Chelsea and Jose Mourinho
"I am the manager, I am responsible for everything," said Mourinho, as if someone other than the manager was being held responsible for Chelsea's embarrassing defeat.
"Especially after a bad result. In the good moments I want everyone to shine, in the bad moments I want everyone to keep calm.
"Tomorrow I will not wake up with a smile on my face but at seven o'clock I will work hard to get three points against Fulham."
Six times Mourinho referred to himself and six matches into his second coming, Chelsea are yet to convince.
Although he would never admit it - or perhaps he would admit it, in a way that he could be seen to be admitting it as though admitting it was the right thing to do thus making him a martyr - it must not be easy for Mourinho to adapt to managing Chelsea's squad after three years in charge of the bountiful quality at Real Madrid.
Sergio Ramos or Gary Cahill? Xabi Alonso or John Obi Mikel? Fernando Torres or Karim Benzema? Eden Hazard or Cristiano Ronaldo? How about Mesut Ozil or Juan Mata? We know the answer to that, as Mourinho continues to suggest uncertainty in his sparing use of the Spaniard.
The transition from managing Real Madrid to managing Chelsea in their current state must have been made complete in Mourinho's mind on Wednesday as the Blues were humbled at home to Basel. Apart from Mata (who came on at 1-0) there were no reassuring options on the Chelsea bench when changes were required, and the introduction of Mikel and Demba Ba following Salah's equaliser only preceded the Blues losing the match five minutes later.
The striker conundrum is a serious problem for Mourinho, with Torres left out of the squad completely against Basel and Ba openly admitting that he has been terrible since his move from Newcastle in January. It will take time for Eto'o to get up to speed, but that is time Chelsea don't have. November is fast approaching and we all know what that means for the Blues' form.
Previously under Mourinho, we would expect to see a huge reaction to such a disappointing defeat, and for Chelsea to embark on a blistering run of form spurred by a potent mix of shame and the desire to silence the doubters. However, Wednesday's loss should have a different effect; rather than spark an instant revival in Chelsea's fortunes, Basel's victory should rein in expectations of how quickly Mourinho can work his miracles.
Chelsea have finished third and sixth in the Premier League in the last two seasons and, although Mourinho's arrival and changes at other clubs present them with an opportunity to challenge for the title, they have made no significant improvement to a squad that crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage last season. The Blues' return to the top is a marathon, not a sprint, and it's likely there will be more nights like Wednesday along the way.
Galatasaray's 6-1 defeat at home to Real Madrid ('Welcome to h-ahaha') raises several questions.
1) How did a 0-1 half-time deficit become 1-6 in the second half?
2) How were Galatasaray so comprehensively outclassed given they beat Real Madrid 3-2 the last time the two sides met in April?
3) How do Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder feel?
Matthew Stanger - follow him on Twitter
"(Only City spent more than Chelsea this summer)" - Did Tottenham not spend £107m? Or are you just talking of the traditional top 4?- HarryBoulton