Manchester City and Liverpool understandably top the Winners after thrashings of close rivals, but Matthew Stanger isn't impressed by Allardyce, Benteke or Hughton...
Manchester United and Chelsea make bizarre table-toppers after pretty unconvincing campaigns against poor opposition, while Manuel Pellegrini was a silly boy...
Following five matches without a win - in four of which they failed to score - West Ham executed a ruthless counter-attacking display against Spurs as Sam Allardyce's 'false nine' paid off handsomely. Perhaps he is 'better suited' to managing Real Madrid or Internazionale.
It's little wonder Big Sam finally gave up on Modibo Maiga leading the line considering the striker's woeful record of two goals in 23 Premier League appearances and the manager's decision to play with runners from deep sliced Spurs open late on as the home side sought an equaliser.
"We thought we would drop the front man out and play more attacking players from midfield, with players from deep running forward," said Allardyce.
"The two wide men in Vaz Te and Stewart Downing would run inside, meaning the centre-halves would never quite know who they were coming up against.
"In the end, the third goal was an opportunity that showed that and worked really well.
Allardyce's gamble was perhaps not only motivated by the daunting test at Spurs - where the Hammers were easily beaten 3-1 last season - but also forthcoming clashes against Manchester City and Swansea. These three opponents are in the top four teams for average possession in the Premier League this year and, with Andy Carroll's absence ongoing, it was clear that Allardyce needed a change in approach.
The instant result of a switch to a deep counter-attacking system is likely to see Allardyce retain his faith in the tactic in the next two matches against teams who enjoy bossing the ball, but he will still need to re-think his attacking plan with Villa at home and Norwich away also on the horizon. Ceding possession and hitting an opponent on the break may work against superior sides who gradually grow frustrated, but it is not a long-term plan against the top-flight's lesser-weights.
It is unlikely that the current England manager will still be in the job to see the likes of Ravel Morrison and Ross Barkley flourish for their country, but the young duo were again impressive at the weekend - along with the slightly older Adam Lallana - strengthening the manager's pool should England qualify for the World Cup. With Daniel Sturridge also fit for the final qualifying double header, England are not quite at the stage where we have to lock Adnan Januzaj in the basement for five years until he naturalises, which sounds truly awful.
A hard-earned 3-1 win from behind against Everton, which brought some wonderful attacking play punctuated by several hairy moments in defence. City have the best goal difference in the top flight after scoring 17 goals thus far, but only nine teams have conceded more than the Blues, who were also worryingly porous against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
While the defence is a concern (as I wrote here), especially now that Vincent Kompany has suffered a recurrence of his troublesome groin injury, Manuel Pellegrini should possibly focus on solving that particular problem by addressing the balance in midfield. Joleon Lescott is not going to suddenly stop being Joleon Lescott, so perhaps the only way to lessen the detriment of Joleon Lescott's Joleon Lescott moments is to leave Joleon Lescott less exposed to opportunities when Joleon Lescott can do a Joleon Lescott.
There is of course great potential in the Yaya Toure-Fernandinho axis (which sounds cooler than 'partnership', as though they're two global superpowers), but possessing two players who both enjoy quick transitions and counter-attacking is posing a problem for Pellegrini. Fernandinho's error against Bayern, when he tried to burst forward from the edge of his own box and lost the ball, resulting in Arjen Robben's goal, indicates that he perhaps isn't so readily inclined to show the restraint City require, although he is nominally the deeper of the midfield duo.
Tour-dinho's best performance of the campaign so far came in the 4-1 thrashing of Manchester United, when the Van Persie-less champions were put to the sword in a stunning opening 50 minutes. With Samir Nasri tucking in on the left and Sergio Aguero dropping deep, City had too much for their opponents in the middle, especially when Marouane Fellaini was in such poor form.
But when United finally grew into the game, Toure and Fernandinho's jobs were made incredibly easy owing to City's unassailable lead. There was no need for a discussion on who should sit and who should support the attack as both players remained deep and soaked up the United pressure. It was a simple decision aided by the understanding they exhibited in the first half when their rivals were desperately poor.
If City are to continue to progress in tough away trips to West Ham and Chelsea, Toure and Fernandinho must retain the balance they showed in the first half of the Manchester derby. Aguero and Alvaro Negredo have instantly struck up a rapport in attack, but it seems the midfield - and now the defence, if Kompany is ruled out for another few weeks - will take a little more time to gel.
Fourth with the strongest defence in the top flight, after conceding only two goals in their first seven matches. They have only scored seven, mind.
Alan Pardew and Joe Kinnear
Newcastle may only have made one first-team signing in the summer, but what a signing that is proving to be as Loic Remy grabbed his fourth and fifth goals of the campaign to give the Magpies a precious victory over Cardiff.
Both Alan Pardew and Joe Kinnear needed a result for the former to keep his job and the latter to stop looking so utterly out of his depth and Remy's double - the second a wonderful strike - brought the under-fire duo some respite.
The next two fixtures, at home to Liverpool and away at Sunderland, afford Newcastle an opportunity to avenge nightmarish defeats in the space of two weeks in April. And then it's on to Man City in the League Cup, Chelsea and Spurs. Good luck, Alan.
Another manager who was let off the hook by his team's narrow victory, but it is likely to be a stay of execution for Martin Jol after another scrappy Fulham display. At least the excellent Sascha Riether again proved that Jol's judgement in the transfer market isn't entirely dreadful.
Seven points in three matches, including four against Manchester United and Arsenal, to steady the ship after a slow start. It seemed that a lack of attacking options might stunt the Baggies' progress this year after they failed to score in their first three matches, but the form of Stephane Sessegnon and Morgan Amalfitano, as well as Saido Berahino's meteoric rise, has caused early fears to dissipate.
A different type of test to those in recent weeks, as Arsenal conceded the first goal of the game for the first time this season and fell behind for the first time in 11 fixtures.
Although Jack Wilshere's first Premier League goal in 55 matches secured the Gunners a point, the midfielder again lacked spark and committed more fouls than any other player on the pitch. The good news for Arsenal is that they have enough options in midfield not to rely on Wilshere if his form continues to fluctuate, with Arsene Wenger stating that the England international has "no guarantees" of a starting spot. The bad news, highlighted by Nicklas Bendtner's late introduction, is that they currently lack compelling attacking options to change a game to their advantage in the final third.
This consideration will of course be remedied to an extent by the return of Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott, but Wenger's straight swap of Olivier Giroud for Bendtner in the last five minutes at the Hawthorns provided the touch of reality that was perhaps required amid Arsenal's fantastic run. The Gunners are growing stronger by the week as players return from injury - with Mikel Arteta making his second appearance in five days on Sunday - but Lukas Podolski's extended absence is proving a problem in the centre-forward role.
Even when Podolski returns, however, Wenger's options in this position are limited as the German is nowhere near as effective as Giroud in leading the line. But the Frenchman will undoubtedly need to be rested at some point after playing all but 26 minutes of Arsenal's league campaign so far and, unless Bendtner's talent suddenly rivals his confidence, Wenger's slim striker pickings could pose more difficulties.
A stunning performance from a player who Sir Alex Ferguson once described as being 'beautifully balanced', with Januzaj demonstrating that attribute in his two excellent strikes against Sunderland.
But please, Adnan, for your sake, pick Belgian, Albania, Turkey, Serbia or Kosovo ahead of England.
A 3-0 lead, goals for Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, seven of 11 attempts on target and the lion's share of possession, despite a couple of nervy moments at the back as Palace were allowed to breeze through. Saturday ended with Liverpool back in top spot and flying, wouldn't you agree?
The other view is that, while Liverpool have enjoyed an impressive start to the season, they are merely ambling through matches and doing just enough to maintain their recent run. They were punished at home to Southampton after Brendan Rodgers' cocky remark about churning out wins, and it would not be a surprise if another collapse lies just around the corner.
The Reds' second-half results in all competitions this year reads as follows: 0-1 Crystal Palace, 1-1 Sunderland, 0-1 Man United (League Cup), 0-1 Southampton, 0-1 Swansea, 0-0 Man United, 0-2 Notts County (League Cup), 0-0 Aston Villa, 0-0 Stoke.
'A match lasts for 90 minutes' was the predictably tedious response when I shared this on Twitter on Sunday, but clearly Liverpool's sluggish second-half displays threaten their chances of sustaining a good start.
It was the same story on Saturday, as what should have been a five or six-nil victory became a 3-1 win after the break. It's quite incredible that Liverpool had only two shots in the second half - neither on target - as Palace were allowed to recover and snatch a consolation when Jose Enrique, who was poor all afternoon, and Steven Gerrard, who looked disinterested all afternoon, switched off.
With Suarez and Sturridge in such brilliant form, Liverpool have been able to rely on the duo to get through their last two games with minimum fuss. Brendan Rodgers' favoured strike partnership have an almost telepathic understanding, exchanging back-heels to create chances in the first half against Palace, and have now scored 12 goals in only nine Premier League starts together.
However, in moving Suarez back into the side, Rodgers has been forced to switch to a 3-5-2 formation that has thus far failed to look convincing, especially with the inconsistent Enrique and Raheem Sterling as wing-backs on Saturday. Liverpool conceded plenty of chances to a poor Palace side and allowed Sunderland 23 attempts in the previous fixture - the highest number of shots the Black Cats have managed in a Premier League match since a 2-1 win over Blackburn in December 2011. Better sides will make Liverpool pay and, as Ian Holloway said on Saturday, "there was enough fidgeting by Brendan" in the second half.
The flip side to this argument is that Liverpool have been enormously efficient so far this season - a sea change from last year - and once they have got a foothold in games, they have largely been excellent at holding on to the lead, exemplified by the calculated win at Aston Villa. But Saturday's display was not one of unerring control, with the result masking the fact that Liverpool were put under pressure by a Palace team who are heading straight back into the Championship.
"Second half is always difficult when you are comfortable in a game, we wanted to go and push on in the second half and it didn't quite materialise and you have to give credit to Crystal Palace," said Rodgers, offering a weak excuse for Liverpool's second-half slump.
"I think Ian's side worked very hard in the second half and align that with some of our loose passing but overall it is three points and that is the aim and we are pleased with the result and hope to improve on our performance level."
The main issue, it seems, is not the defensive concerns that have seen Liverpool fail to keep a clean sheet in four Premier League matches for the first time since September 2012, but a lack of options in central midfield. Gerrard's performances have certainly dropped this year following his gradual adjustment to Rodgers' system last season, and Jordan Henderson was required to do all of the legwork in the middle in Lucas' absence through suspension.
That Liverpool only have four options to play in the centre - Gerrard, Henderson, Lucas and the missing Joe Allen - is something of a worry as the captain's impact remains below his usual level and Henderson and Lucas, while hard-working, lack guile to offer anything in attack. This problem will be alleviated to an extent when Philippe Coutinho returns - thankfully ending Victor Moses' ineffective deployment as a No 10 - but it's likely that the lack of drive in midfield will remain, given the options available to Rodgers.
It's also interesting to note that Liverpool are ninth in the Premier League possession table, averaging 51.8% of the ball per game, compared to finishing last season in third with an average of 57.2%. They have certainly become more direct in their approach, with Rodgers prepared to eschew the control he demanded last season in favour of efficiency.
"We're a team that's evolving and starting to understand that side of football; with every attack, you can't score," said Rodgers before the win over Palace.
"Sometimes you have to move the ball, disrupt your opponent's organisation and then really have the eye to make the killer pass and hopefully get the goals from there."
While Liverpool have not yet exhibited the stunning counter-attacking football of Arsenal (apart from Suarez's second against Sunderland and other flashes), which I discussed in Champions League Winners and Losers, Rodgers' change of tack has thus far brought an impressive start to the season. The aim now for the Reds is to find harmony between their fantastic form on paper and performances that have been somewhat lacking on the pitch.
A much-needed victory that lifts the champions six points behind the league leaders, but another disappointing display as they laboured to a narrow victory over a truly terrible team.
We may have seen the best of an awful Sunderland side in the first half, as Craig Gardner's dithering and David De Gea's magnificent save prevented the Black Cats from extending their lead, but United should have eased to victory with the quality they possess. That they were eventually saved from another sticky situation by an 18-year-old rookie is an embarrassment to the more experienced players in the squad who again failed to perform.
While some have pointed the finger at David Moyes (look at me being all coy. It was me! And I'll do it again), Ryan Giggs and now Wayne Rooney have defended the manager and claimed that the players deserve a slice of the blame pie.
Mmm, blame pie.
As always, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, with Moyes' tactics certainly failing to get the best out of the team, but previously reliable performers - such as Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand - clusterf**king their way through the early weeks of the season.
One thing Moyes does deserve credit for is handing Januzaj his first Premier League start, and tears streamed down the manager's cheeks as he mouthed "thank you, thank you, thank you" to the young Belgian/Albanian/Turk/Kosovan/Serbian following his match-winning brace. It doesn't necessarily take guts to pick a rookie ahead of Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia at the moment, but Januzaj's selection and performance handed a timely message to United's underperforming wingers.
The 18-year-old is not going to have the same impact in every game, of course, and Moyes will be worried that the champions' regular match-winner, Robin Van Persie, is playing within himself at the moment. The striker's control was dreadful on several occasions during Saturday's victory and he missed a simple chance to seal the win in the closing stages before Sunderland made United sweat.
There were reports in the summer that Van Persie is unhappy with Moyes' training methods - swiftly denied by the player - and, while it's unbecoming to speculate on such speculation, one can't help but feel that all is not right with the Dutchman. Perhaps it's merely another patch of poor form similar to February/March last season; perhaps it's the niggling injuries that have disrupted his season so far; perhaps he needs another slice of steaming-hot horse placenta; or, perhaps it is something bigger, a frustration at Ferguson's sudden departure and the difficulty to adapt to Moyes' methods.
Whatever the reason, United need Van Persie to jump out of his funk following the international break as they seek to put a poor start behind them. The next two weeks afford Moyes time off from saying stupid things every two or three days, and the manager will no doubt be studiously pondering how to improve his team's fortunes.
Ah, the perennial struggles of a mid-table team trying to balance Thursday/Sunday fixtures. Perhaps Michael Laudrup's spared use of Leon Britton this season is one transition too far for the flapping Swans.
Despite boastful talk of a change in style, all Mark Hughes has achieved so far is to transform Stoke from 13th-place contenders into 13th-place contenders with six per cent more of the ball. Woo, and indeed, hoo.
"As the away side, I thought we took the game to Fulham," said the grandmother-haired Hughes after the defeat to Fulham.
"Early in the second half we were very much in control and looked the team more likely to score."
But you didn't, Mark. And therein lies the problem.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel
A neat assist, but Van Wolfswinkel has now managed just one shot on target in six matches since Norwich's 2-2 draw with Everton on the opening day. It's either time for Chris Hughton to improve the service to his No 9, start Gary Hooper, both, or all three.
A shock defeat if not a shocking lack of incision against West Ham, as Andre Villas-Boas waited too long to inject Lewis Holtby's energy and intelligent movement into a lifeless display. The manager now has two weeks to stew on the defeat that Daniel Storey covered in more depth here.
Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.
Controversial, but Mark Lawrenson was a big winner - getting 9/10 right and the only one he got wrong was Spurs v WHU which, to be fair, everyone else would have called a s a home banker too.- Slaphead