Those who thought the Premier League’s murky waters would become clearer as October approaches, were left disappointed as the English top-flight conjured another mad weekend.
Here’s what we’ve learnt this weekend…
1) What’s going on at United?
During the week, David Moyes had warned that United were in transition, thus more susceptible to catastrophic defeats like the one they suffered at the Etihad eight days ago. However, not even Moyes himself could have been prepared for the abject performance United offered against West Bromwich on Saturday, as they slumped to a third defeat in six games.
Moyes’ attempted turnover backfired spectacularly, with United lacking rhythm, ideas and any sense of urgency. The decision to start Anderson proved yet again how inadequate the Brazilian is to the standards required of a United midfielder, while Shinji Kagawa was prematurely withdrawn after only 45 minutes.
Moyes needs time, but some of his decisions are starting to become increasingly questionable, while United’s failure to address their squad adequately during the summer is coming back to haunt the former Everton manager, as many had expected.
Three points clear of the relegation zone after six games, things are looking rather grim at Old Trafford.
2) So far, so good for Cardiff and Hull
Six games into their first Premier League season, Cardiff are sitting rather comfortably in 11th place after a last-gasp win at Fulham on Saturday. Malky Mackay’s organised brand of football might not be overly entertaining, but has so far guaranteed the points his club needed to get off to a steady start in the top-flight.
Seven points from the first six weeks are an excellent return for the Welsh capital’s side and with Newcastle due to travel to Wales before the international break, things could get even better for Mackay’s men.
Hull, meanwhile, were by many considered to be favourites to become this season’s whipping boys but have as many points Manuel Pellegrini’s big spending Manchester City.
The Tigers’ win against West Ham was Steve Bruce’s men third this season and while Hull were lucky to be awarded the penalty that decided the game, last season’s Championship runners-up showed the grit and determination needed by a side fighting against the drop.
Robbie Brady’s third goal of the season confirmed the Irishman is a luxury the Tigers can’t afford to without at the moment.
Last week City thrashed United 4-1 displaying the sort of clinical finishing and quick counterattacking football proper of any championship winning team.
Those who thought Manuel Pellegrini’s men would kick-on, however, were left disappointed as City crumbled to an unexpected 3-2 defeat against a Villa side short of its most dangerous man.
For all their brilliance going forward, City’s back four looks suspicious at times, and shipped in more goals than any other side in the top eight – Arsenal and Hull share City’s defensive record.
On their day City are untouchable, but defeats such as the one against Villa show they’re far from being the finished article, nor they’re the ruthless machine many expected them to be.
4) London’s back on top
After three years of Mancunian dominance, the power has been well and truly wrestled down South, with Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea occupying the first three places on the table.
Arsenal’s confidence, which was boosted by Mesut Ozil’s arrival as reached heights that had been left unexplored in the last couple of years and while the fixtures list has been kind to Arsene Wenger’s men, should they have arrive at the international break clear of their rivals, they’d have to be considered serious title challengers.
The draw at White Hart Lane told us that Spurs have improved immensely over AVB but still lack a killer instinct in big games, while Chelsea remain unimpressive but also incredibly hard to beat.
Jose Mourinho was left ruing Fernando Torres’ ludicrous red card, but the Portuguese can only blame himself for leaving Juan Mata on the bench for the first 45 minutes, for when he came on, the Spaniard’s impact was there for all to see.
5) Saints on their way to heaven
When Mauricio Pochettino replaced Nigel Adkins last season, many questioned the wisdom of Southampton’s choice and not even the most fervent of Saints’ fan would have expected their side to sit fourth on the table after six games.
Pochettino’s expensive summer signings are beginning to bear their fruits, with Pablo Osvaldo opening his account against Crystal Palace and Dejan Lovren cutting an increasingly assured figure at the back, while Rickie Lambert keeps doing what he’s done throughout his career – scoring goals.
The Saints’ mean back four – alongside Spurs’ Southampton have the league’s best defensive record – and a solid midfield, in which the excellent Adam Lallana and Morgan Schneiderlin continue to impress, are rock-solid foundations upon which Pochettino has built his side.
The Argentinian’s main focus might be avoiding relegation but, based on the first six weeks of the campaign, there’s no reason to believe Southampton can’t aim to a European spot.