Having trudged along for the first four weeks, the Premier League bursted into a frantic gallop this weekend, with goals plundered in across the country, managers leaving their post and a terrific – or tragic, depending on your allegiances – Manchester derby.
Here’s what we’ve learnt from the weekend…
1) Moyes’ learning curve is steep
Earlier in the season, David Moyes admitted being startled by the task awaiting him at Manchester United, a club where pressure is something manager and players simply have to live with.
That thought must have crossed the United manager’s mind yesterday afternoon as he endured a terrible first Manchester derby. United didn’t simply lose, they looked like a mediocre side and were never at the races, while City produced their best performance of the season.
United lacked pace, ideas and their usually reliable defence was taken apart by a ruthless City side which highlighted United’s deficiencies. While United moved clumsily in the transfer window, City strengthened their squad and two of those signings, Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas, were pivotal in yesterday’s 4-1 mauling of United.
United have a proven track record when it comes to bouncing back and will undoubtedly do so this season, but Moyes might find the learning curve a lot steeper than he thought.
2) Arrivederci, Paolo
It was never going to last, was it? Paolo Di Canio’s love affair with Sunderland blossomed last season and offered plenty of promise over the summer, but it all turned sour in the first five weeks of the season.
The Italian’s strict regime backfired spectacularly with rumours of widespread malaise in the dressing room playing a pivotal role in costing the Italian the job.
Di Canio’s desire to instill discipline into his side was commendable but the Italian’s penchant for criticising his players in public and grueling training regimes were never going to win him many friends, while the 13 new players he brought in over the summer were always going to need time to gel.
Sunderland are much better than the table suggests, but Di Canio’s successor will have his work cut out.
3) Martinez winning friends on Merseyside
After three draws in their opening three games, Roberto Martinez’s detractors pointed out that the Spaniard’s passing game clearly did not fit Everton. Consecutive wins, however, have changed that.
Saturday’s 3-2 win away at West Ham showed why the former Wigan manager was desperate to hold on to Leighton Baines in the summer, as the England left-back produced another stunning performance, while Romelu Lukaku proved devastating from the bench.
Everton remain the only unbeaten club in the Premier League and while their former manager toils away at Manchester United, his successor’s philosophy has been fully embraced at Goodison Park.
4) Will the North London duopoly continue?
When Spurs lost the North London derby earlier this month, Andre Villas Boas side looked a work in progress with the Portuguese still trying to find his best XI.
With their summer signings gradually settling into the squad, Spurs look an increasingly solid and convincing side and, should they sustain their form over the next couple of months, they could become dark horses for the title come January.
Meanwhile, Arsenal’s disastrous start to the season is a distant memory as the Gunners continue to ride the wave of excitement generated by Mesut Ozil’s arrival. The German was again inspirational against Stoke and his presence alone seems to have filled Arsenal with a confidence Wenger’s men had desperately lacked in recent seasons.
Next Saturday will test both of North London clubs’ credentials, with Spurs hosting Chelsea and Arsenal facing a tricky trip to Swansea but both will go into next week full of confidence.
5) Sessegnon makes an instant impact
There are worse ways to endear yourself to your new fans than scoring on your debut. If the team conceding is your former club, whose manager decided you were no longer required, then even better.
Stephane Sessegnon proved that he didn’t turn into a bad player overnight at Sunderland and his arrival could prove to be an extremely astute signing by Steve Clarke.
The Benin international’s creativity provided West Brom the chances they had sorely missed throughout the first five games of the season and after scoring once in their opening four matches, the Baggies netted three times on Saturday.