Five Things We Know Already
Liverpool Need A Win
Brendan Rodgers will have been disappointed with his team's opening day defeat to West Brom, but the Reds were impressive against Man City and would have snatched all three points if it were not for individual errors. Defeat to Arsenal, though, combined with the spectacular failings of deadline day, has left Liverpool at a low ebb over the international break and Rodgers will need to lift his team ahead of the trip to Sunderland on September 15.
There is already a stick with which to beat Rodgers, given that this is Liverpool's worst start to a season since 1962, but such a statistic is utterly meaningless only three games into the season. And anyone who employs this hollow argument probably made their mind up about the new manager long before the first ball was kicked.
However, all things considered, Liverpool need the boost of a first league win and it's more likely to come at the Stadium Of Light, against a Sunderland team without a victory in their last ten Premier League matches, than in the folowing fixture against Manchester United. If the Reds pick up three points in their next outing, everything suddenly looks rosier ahead of United's visit.
Spurs' New Signings Need To Settle Quickly
Another manager who's starting to get a little clammy is Andre Villas-Boas at Spurs. The Portuguese knows all about Premier Leage pressure after falling under the weight of it at Chelsea, but he may have been surprised at how quickly the White Hart Lane crowd resorted to booing, with the team drawing 0-0 at half-time against Norwich on Saturday.
While Mousa Dembele came off the bench to inject more purpose into Tottenham's play, scoring a lovely debut goal, Villas-Boas will need the rest of his recruits to settle quickly into his system. Gylfi Sigurdsson has started slowly while Emmanuel Adebayor will need to use the international break to get up to speed on the training pitch after missing pre-season.
Conceding late goals has been a problem in the first three fixtures - Spurs have dropped seven points thus far in the last ten minutes of matches - and the manager will be seeking to eradicate that issue. A trip to Reading and a home game against QPR offer Spurs an excellent opportunity to bag a couple of wins before they face Manchester United at Old Trafford at the end of September.
Man United Strikers Are Biggest Threat To Man City
After completing the signing of Robin van Persie, Sir Alex Ferguson said that his current forward line is the strongest United have had since the treble win in 1999. Roberto Mancini was similarly impresessed, claiming that the combination of Van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck is the most impressive attacking quartet in the world.
Three games into the new season and Van Persie, who has 52 strikes in his last 58 league matches, is already living up to his price tag, with a goal on his home debut and a match-winning hat-trick against Southampton. And while Rooney looked off the pace before his injury set-back, we all know that the England forward will be fit and firing sooner rather than later - 27 top-flight goals last season suggests it's foolish to question his contribution at such an early stage of the new campaign.
With Welbeck and Chicharito offering support to United's first-choice strikers, Ferguson's squad is certainly equipped to out-gun City - something which could be a crucial factor in the title race. Considering that goal difference decided the championship last season, the United manager is leaving nothing to chance this time round.
Newcastle Will Struggle To Repeat The Highs Of Last Season
Although they've picked up four points from their first three matches, Newcastle are yet to provide a thoroughly convincing performance, adding voice to claims that the Magpies will find this season a tougher test.
Alan Pardew will be relieved to have kept his key performers at the club over the summer, despite reported interest from around Europe, but Newcastle haven't strengthened significantly - out of four signings, only Vurnon Anita can be classed as an immediate challenger for a first team place. Gael Bigirimana has done well when given a chance to impress, but the former Coventry youngster is a bright hope for the future, rather than someone who can take the Magpies through the glass ceiling and into the top four.
Given that Pardew pursued a deal for Luuk De Jong for several weeks, only to see the Dutch striker join Borussia Moenchengladbach, the manager will feel disappointed not to have brought in an exciting name to add to the optimism that was cultivated at St. James' Park last year. With Newcastle fighting on four fronts, teams such as Everton will be looking to take advantage of any fatigue and it won't be easy for the Magpies to repeat the highs of the last 12 months.
QPR's Spending Has Been Haphazard
QPR may have ambition and a big bag of cash, but their aspirations have hardly been channelled in a cogent manner this summer. The R's transfer business has been haphazard to say the least and although they have attracted big names such as Julio Cesar, Park Ji-Sung and Esteban Granero, the club have failed to address the defensive issues that dogged them for most of the previous campaign.
Bosingwa may be a two-time Champions League winner, but the right-back is far from being a consistent performer, while the fact that Manchester United were willing to loan out Fabio at a time when Patrice Evra's form has taken a dip suggests the left-back is not developing at the required rate. The deadline day deal for Stephane Mbia should mean that veterans Clint Hill and Ryan Nelsen, who have both started matches this season, will now drop to back-up, but Mark Hughes would have preferred to capture his top two targets, Michael Dawson and Ricardo Carvalho.
There is potential in the Mbia-Anton Ferdinand partnership at the back, but it will take time for the duo to work up an understanding and, with 12 new signings in total, the rest of the team will also need to gel. The R's face two difficult fixtures against Tottenham and Chelsea before the end of the month, but if they fail to pick up points in winnable matches at the start of October, pressure will begin to mount on Hughes and the questionable business of this summer could soon look like a costly mistake.