MANCHESTER City passed the first major test of whether or not they are champion material as they beat Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.
City’s 5-0 win against Liverpool last month was skewed by Sadio Mane’s sending-off with the game at 1-0 – but the magnitude of their performance against Chelsea was unquestionable.
Elsewhere, Manchester United kept pace with their cross-city rivals, beating Crystal Palace – who already look like a condemned team – 4-0 at Old Trafford.
Liverpool, who have won only once in their last seven games in all competitions, were held 1-1 at Newcastle, while Arsenal continued their resurgence with a 2-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion.
We look at 11 talking points from the seventh round of Premier League matches, starting with City.
Manchester City pass the big test
Much was going to be read into City’s trip to Chelsea, regardless of the outcome, and Kevin De Bruyne’s 67th-minute goal against his former club ensured the Manchester team passed their big early-season test.
The scoreline may suggest a close game but City were comfortably the better team, and concluded a spectacular September in style.
During the month, they beat Watford 6-0, Liverpool and Crystal Palace 5-0 and Chelsea 1-0 in the league, as well as beating Feyenoord, Shakhtar Donetsk and West Brom in the cups.
Against Chelsea, they even did it without the injured Sergio Aguero.
No need for Chelsea to panic
Champions Chelsea are six points off the pace after seven games, with Antonio Conte admitting retaining the title in Italian was much easier than it is in England.
Their defeat against City came days after a dramatic 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid – and perhaps that took its toll at the weekend.
Chelsea lost striker Alvaro Morata to a first-half injury, with Conte sending on Willian instead of either Michy Batshuayi or Pedro.
But Conte’s team were beaten by a team on course for one of the great Premier League seasons and should not panic.
Manchester United pile more misery on desperate Crystal Palace
Roy Hodgson was right about one thing: things are going to get worse before they get better for Palace.
His hapless team, beaten 4-0 at Old Trafford, now have the following record: seven wins, seven defeats, no points, no goals scored, 17 goals conceded.
Their run has already matched the worst start to a season in the Premier League era – Portsmouth’s seven straight defeats in 2009-10.
The worst ever start to a top-flight season – Manchester United’s 12 straight losses in 1930-31 – is not beyond this dismal Palace team.
Arsenal are back in the groove as Arsene Wenger celebrates 21st anniversary
Arsenal’s struggles of the last week or so of the transfer window are now long behind them.
Since losing 4-0 at Liverpool in late August, they have taken 10 points from a possible 12 in the Premier League – and won three out of three cup matches.
As manager Wenger celebrated 21 years in charge, his players built on their resurgence with a 2-0 win over Brighton.
Burnley’s stunning away form is this season’s big surprise
Away points in the whole of 2016-17: seven.
Away points in four games so far in 2017-18: eight.
Burnley’s away form last season was so poor that many felt it would lead to their relegation.
This season, it is so good many feel it could lead to an unlikely tilt at the European places.
After winning away at Chelsea, and drawing at Tottenham and Liverpool, Burnley’s 1-0 win at Everton left them sixth in the table, wedged between Arsenal and Liverpool.
Wayne Rooney starts on the bench as Everton’s woes continue
Everton spent a fortune and got worse over the summer. Much of that is down to the departure of Romelu Lukaku (whose seven league goals for Manchester United are three more than Everton have managed).
But even so, Everton look lost under Ronald Koeman, and things are so bad that even homecoming hero Rooney found himself on the bench for the home loss against Burnley.
Harry Kane and Tottenham Hotspur have found their rhythm
Burnley’s away form is good – but Spurs’ is flawless. After four road trips, Tottenham have a maximum haul of 12 points, with 12 goals scored and two conceded.
Their 4-0 win at Huddersfield Town was as ruthless a display as any on the road this season (save, perhaps, Manchester City’s performance in thrashing Watford 6-0).
If Spurs could get their act together at Wembley, they might even give the Manchester clubs something to think about.
Peter Crouch is a national treasure
Crouch began his career as a player who, because of a build unique in top-flight football, was often a figure of fun.
But the fact he is still scoring goals in the Premier League at 36 – alongside his ever likeable demeanour – makes Crouch a national treasure.
One of the Premier League’s more engaging and amusing social media stars, the veteran frontman still has plenty to offer on the field, as his 85th-minute winner for Stoke against Southampton showed.
Calm down I haven’t done it for ages https://t.co/qQhL8GCXdI
— Peter Crouch (@petercrouch) September 27, 2017
Liverpool are consistent only in that they continue to frustrate
Liverpool dominated possession and chances against Newcastle, having 68 percent of the ball and 17 goal attempts. But Liverpool’s attack – so lethal in August – has stuttered since, while their now-expected defensive frailties continue.
Liverpool have shown consistency this season – but only in as much as they continue to consistently frustrate their supporters.
That said, they are only two points behind Spurs and one behind Chelsea.
With a collective sigh, we say: “Not another international break”
International break? Another one? So soon? Yes, yes, and, unfortunately, yes. Just as the Premier League was hitting its stride once more after the last round of international games, here comes another break.
The players are jetting off around the world and the league action will recommence on October 14 with the small matter of… Liverpool v Manchester United.