IN many ways, the latest round of Premier League matches defied the convention of the first three.
Manchester United dropped points – and conceded goals.
Liverpool failed to score.
Harry Kane scored – twice.
Newly-promoted Brighton & Hove Albion scored their first top-flight goals since 1983.
But with one game remaining in the fourth round of Premier League matches – Huddersfield Town’s trip to West Ham United on Monday – one pattern remains very conventional indeed.
The top three teams are Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.
We look at 11 talking points from the second weekend of Premier League action, starting at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City exploited their numerical advantage – and Liverpool’s porous defence
City’s home game against Liverpool was a close contest, with Liverpool having decent chances and City leading 1-0, when the contest turned on a refereeing decision.
Sadio Mane, the outstanding Liverpool forward, competed for a ball for which he felt he was allowed to compete, but clattered into Ederson, the City goalkeeper.
Referee Jon Moss reaches straight for his red card, while Ederson left the field on a stretcher.
Liverpool’s belief appeared to disappear at that point, with their defence no match at all for City’s incisive attacking play.
Rubbish decision to send off Mané. Rubbish.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) September 9, 2017
Mane’s red card split opinion – and prompted calls for consistency
Everyone had an opinion on Mane’s red card, with some claiming it was a justifiable sending-off and others suggesting it was a terrible decision.
The following afternoon, when Newcastle United’s Matt Ritchie was only shown a yellow card for a similar challenge on Swansea City’s Alfie Mawson.
Manchester United dropped points – and conceded goals – for the first time this season
Given his name contains roughly five syllables too many, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is unlikely to spawn a catchy song among supporters.
But the Stoke City forward, a summer recruit from Schalke in Germany, did what no other player had done this season – he scored against Manchester United in the Premier League. And did it twice.
He gave Stoke a 43rd-minute lead, only for Paul Pogba to head in via Marcus Rashford to draw level. After Romelu Lukaku had fired United in front, Choupo-Moting scored again to deny United a fourth straight win.
Arsenal’s crisis is over – for now
After a narrow defeat at Stoke and a not-so-narrow defeat at Liverpool, Arsenal – who also sold Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the final day of the transfer window – responded with a comfortable and clinical 3-0 win over Bournemouth.
Danny Welbeck scored twice, with the club’s record signing Alexandre Lacazette getting the other.
Crystal Palace’s crisis is in full swing
Palace manager is Frank de Boer’s new job – but very soon it could be his old job.
The embattled Dutchman saw his team lose 1-0 at Burnley on Sunday – they have now lost all four matches this season, without scoring a single goal.
Palace are in good company though
Bournemouth’s defeat at Arsenal meant Eddie Howe’s team have also lost all four of their matches this season – the first time since 1956 that two teams have lost their opening four top-flight games.
And, as this tweet pointed out, if West Ham lose on Monday, three teams will have lost their opening four matches – for the first time since 1895.
It’s September – so Harry Kane is scoring goals again
The Tottenham Hotspur forward’s August travails are well known – so is his knack of scoring goals during the rest of the year.
He got back in the groove, after a fruitless August, with two goals in the 3-0 win at Everton – including an outrageous attempted cross that sailed into the net.
Chelsea are back in ominous form
It feels like an age since champions Chelsea fell 3-0 down and had two men sent off before losing 3-2 against Burnley on the opening weekend of the season.
They have since won away at Tottenham, beaten Everton at home, and – on Saturday – were 2-1 winners in a gritty game at 2015-16 champions Leicester City.
Goals – lots of them – for Brighton & Hove Albion
The Premier League’s success is built, in part, on its unpredictability – and the outcome at the Amex Stadium was certainly that.
Brighton went into the game with no wins – and no goals – from their first three games.
West Bromwich Albion went into it unbeaten and with only one goal conceded.
So the natural outcome, of course, was a 3-1 win for Brighton, with summer signing Pascal Gross scoring twice.
Everton are yet to see a return on their summer investment
De Boer is undeniably under pressure at Palace, but how long before another Dutchman with a glorious playing career – Ronald Koeman – is facing similar criticism?
Everton did the very un-Everton thing of spending a fortune in the summer – but they ended the weekend in 16th place, having been thumped 3-0 by Spurs.
There is no let-up either: Koeman’s men, who travel to Italy in the Europa League on Thursday, go to Manchester United on Sunday.
Monday’s game could go a long way to determining Slaven Bilic’s future
West Ham’s form this season is dismal, while Huddersfield remain the last team in the Premier League yet to concede a goal.
If the Terriers’ perfect defensive record remains in place after Monday’s game in London, Bilic may not. The West Ham boss desperately needs a victory in his team’s first home match of the season.