Here are four things we learnt from last weekend’s action:
De Bruyne plugs Aguero gap for Man City
Manchester City have been without striker Sergio Aguero for their last two league games, but they have not missed him thanks to the superb form of attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgium international scored one goal and helped make another in last weekend's 2-1 win at Manchester United and was equally influential in the 4-0 victory over Bournemouth. He opened the scoring by cleverly stroking a free-kick beneath the jumping defensive wall and had a hand in all of City’s other goals. “Maybe Messi can sit alone at the table. But that table aside, Kevin can stay there,” said City manager Pep Guardiola. “He sees absolutely everything.”
Things are happening at Everton
Everton beat Middlesbrough 3-1, giving them their best start to an English top-flight season since 1978 and leaving them two points behind Manchester City in second place. Manager Ronald Koeman has hit the ground running since succeeding Roberto Martinez as manager and new signings Ashley Williams, Idrissa Gueye and Yannick Bolasie are bedding in quickly. “[Koeman] has kept things pretty simple,” said midfielder Gareth Barry, who marked his 600th Premier League appearance with Everton’s equaliser. “We’ve taken on board the manager’s instructions this season and the team is playing with confidence.”
The big teams need fear Liverpool
Liverpool have wasted no time flexing their muscles this season, beating Arsenal, Leicester City – last season’s top two – and 2015 champions Chelsea in their first five games. Last Friday’s 2-1 win at Chelsea was another lesson in asphyxiating intensity and breathless endeavour. Dejan Lovren’s volley and Jordan Henderson’s superb long-range curler put the visitors in control and although Diego Costa reduced the arrears, the margin of victory was misleading – Liverpool were never in trouble. Jurgen Klopp’s side look a match for any team in the division, but as their 2-0 loss at Burnley demonstrated, they can struggle when opponents sit back and force them to take the initiative. It may be matches such as this weekend’s home fixture with Hull City, rather than the glamour games in which they have already excelled, that dictate whether Liverpool can go the distance.
Stoke aren't very Stoke any more
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes was applauded for introducing a slicker playing style at the club last season, with talented forwards Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic and Bojan Krkic delighting neutrals. They finished ninth, but have made a dreadful start to the current campaign and were left bottom of the table after losing 4-1 at Crystal Palace. Palace’s first three goals all stemmed from set-pieces – exactly the kind of goal Stoke were renowned for not conceding under Hughes’s no-nonsense predecessor Tony Pulis.