New signings have to be assimilated quickly and effectively so who was successful and where are the possible problems?
David Moyes is under a certain amount of scrutiny already, not just because of a farcical transfer window that yielded only an over-priced Marouane Fellaini, but because his side have failed to score in their past two games and he chose to start with 39-year-old Ryan Giggs in the defeat at Liverpool without even finding a place on the bench for Shinji Kagawa. Fellaini will only be a good acquisition for United if he is given a defined role. The Belgian was back as a defensive midfielder under Roberto Martínez at Everton, though a year ago Moyes beat Manchester United at Goodison by deploying him as a marauding attacker. The tricky thing is that United do not need Fellaini to perform either of those tasks, and the £27.5m capture may struggle to convince fans that he is the creative, clever midfield presence the team lacks. If it is true that United passed on Mesut Ozil because they had Kagawa for the same role, it is time for Moyes to show the same amount of confidence in the Japanese playmaker.
The arrival of Martin Demichelis, before injury ruled him out for six weeks on Friday, was intended to provide Manuel Pellegrini with cover in central defence in the absence of Vincent Kompany and Micah Richards. Once all three return City should look more like the side that last season conceded fewest goals in the Premier League, always assuming Joe Hart's dip in form proves temporary. But it is further up the field where the City manager needs to make his intentions clear. Playing 4-4-2 against Hull in their last league game, with Fernandinho and Yaya Touré in the centre of midfield, City were set up too defensively to spring any surprises on their opponents. While Jesús Navas has the searing pace to operate as an old-fashioned winger, David Silva is wasted stuck out on the flank. Alvaro Negredo is somewhat similar to Edin Dzeko and a decision needs to be made there, while Stevan Jovetic must be wondering if he needs to get past both of the big men in order to get a game or somehow displace Sergio Agüero. As with United, it is not all about the new acquisitions.
In making their best start to a season in nearly 20 years, Liverpool have turned into the new Arsenal, or possibly the old Arsenal, winning all three games 1-0 with a certain amount of luck. There was nothing lucky about the victory over Manchester United that sent Brendan Rodgers's team to the top of the table, though the first win of the sequence required a last-minute penalty save from Simon Mignolet to deny Stoke a draw they probably deserved. The goalkeeper was also instrumental in preserving a slender lead at Aston Villa and is already looking like one of the smartest acquisitions of the summer. For a free transfer Kolo Touré looked more than useful before succumbing to injury, and given that Victor Moses has also arrived on loan, Rodgers has made some cost-effective improvements as well as spending £12m on an extra centre-back in Mamadou Sakho. Liverpool now have four centre-halves to choose from in Sakho, Touré, Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel, and when Luis Suárez returns in a couple of weeks they will potentially have the trickiest forward line in the country. Liverpool's stay at the top may well prove more than a fleeting visit.
Bill Kenwright played a blinder in the transfer window, even if few other clubs were falling over themselves to pay £14m for James McCarthy. Leighton Baines remains, Gareth Barry is there for a season on loan and, most significantly, so, too, is Romelu Lukaku, a striker so capable that hardly anyone in the world except Chelsea would farm him out to Premier League rivals. Perhaps Chelsea do not see Everton as direct rivals. Judging by the way they have started the season, with three draws and no goals in their past two games, the Roberto Martínez revolution may take a while to work. It certainly did at Wigan. Everton are not Wigan, though, and there is no reason to be too gloomy when they were a little unlucky not to come away from Cardiff with a win. But they are not Chelsea either, a fact unlikely to go unnoticed when they entertain José Mourinho's side, an encounter Lukaku will have to sit out. Everton cannot say they are going to miss a player who has not even kicked a ball for the club yet, though it feels as though they might. Nikica Jelavic, this is your moment.
This question is related to another: will Eto'o play more games for Chelsea than Lukaku would have done? Given Mourinho's striking choices towards the end of transfer window, it is obvious he trusts a legend of the game whose work and personality he knows so well from a treble-winning campaign at Internazionale more than a youngster who made an impressive name for himself on loan at West Brom last term. There are some questions about his fitness after a stint in Russia, and at the age of 32 his pace may not be what it once was. But his levels of athleticism have astonished some club doctors. The most intriguing element is where he fits into the system Chelsea have been playing for some time. Can Eto'o be the lone striker, required to link play and hold up as well as race on to the supply lines that come from three creators behind him? In his Barcelona heyday he was part of a mobile front three with Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi for company. At Inter, Mourinho rebranded him into a hard-working right-sided forward, as Diego Milito led the line. Eto'o follows some of the most revered figures from African football to pull on a Chelsea shirt. Whether Eto'o has the fitness to be more of a Didier Drogba than a George Weah at Stamford Bridge remains to be seen.
There is a school of thought that spending £42.5m on a silky playmaker from Real Madrid is all well and good but not really what Arsenal needed. While it would be bonkers to argue that a striker and extra defender would not be extremely useful, it is wrong to suggest that a creative nugget such as Ozil is merely an indulgence. Bringing in an arch-creator to add pure precision to a passing game that sometimes struggles for end product could be a masterstroke. It is a gap that needed filling since Cesc Fábregas left two summers ago. As Lukas Podolksi points out: "The only thing that has been missing was the last punch, that surprise moment. That's exactly what Mesut can give us." There is always a risk about expecting a key player to slot in immediately at a new team in a new league – and Ozil is going to be central to how Arsenal play from the first minute – yet Arsenal are confident his style should make for an easy transition. If they are right, it could make a significant difference to Arsène Wenger's ambitions for the season. It may be a bit much to expect one eye-opening signing to transform Arsenal into instant title challengers, though.
Not necessarily, but he needs time to instill his philosophy in 13 foreign signings and make his stellar coaching ability count. Even Titus Bramble – departed, disgruntled – praised Di Canio's coaching, but the Italian's tough love management has raised red flags. Unfortunately for Sunderland's manager, tight editing of his multi-layered reflections produces dramatic soundbites highlighting scathing player deconstructions while removing the context, nuance, intelligence and humour cushioning them. After a poor start and with tough home fixtures looming, critics – "crows" Di Canio calls them – are circling but most Sunderland fans, well aware the club's mindset required dramatic readjustment, trust they have finally found the crusader they need. Teething troubles seem inevitable and Di Canio – who does not disguise his ego – probably needs to remove Lee Cattermole from the deep freeze before reaching a rapprochement with the midfielder. Cattermole's abrasion could ensure the team's winger-propelled 4-4- 2 formation functions properly. Adam Johnson and Emanuele Giaccherini promise creativity from wide but much hinges on Ki Sung-Yueng's central-midfield vision and the attacking chemistry between Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore or Fabio Borini.
Almost certainly not. Merely borrowing the France striker Loïc Remy from QPR was testimony to Joe Kinnear being way out of his depth as director of football – surely Mike Ashley, the owner, has to retire JFK now – but Alan Pardew's first XI, bolstered by five signings from France last January, is strong. No side boasting, among others, Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon, Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa should struggle but Pardew – who the smart money now suggests will see off Kinnear – ideally needed another striker, left-winger and centre-half. Instead, Ashley's puzzling small town mentality endures. With a 52,000 capacity, city-centre stadium and turnover in the world's top 20, Newcastle fans wonder why the club is not more ambitious. Especially after a summer when rivals speculated to accumulate. Until Ashley finally sells, all Pardew can do is prove why he was the 2012 manager of the year. Replacing last season's long balls with considered passes, restoring the recently unsettled Cabaye and under-achieving Cheik Tioté to their central-midfield pomp, keeping Ben Arfa fit and happy and turning Remy and Papiss Cissé into a potent attacking partnership would represent a good start.
Spurs have used their £82.5m windfall to strengthen almost everywhere. They reinvested the Bale money in upgrading their midfield and attack, as well as adding another centre-back in Vlad Chiriches. Whether they finish in the top four will mainly depend on two things: first, how quickly all the new players can familiarise themselves with each other and the Premier League and find fluidity; and second, whether André Villas-Boas cultivates the right style and tactics to get the best out of his new signings. The Portuguese aspires to control games but sometimes that comes at the price of unpredictability and, especially, a high tempo. Last term Bale regularly came to the rescue but this season the manager needs to prove he can shape the conditions for creativity to flourish. Spurs have yet to score from open play in their opening three league matches but that should change as Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli become more integrated. Then Roberto Soldado should be given the opportunities to demonstrate he is the top striker Spurs have lacked in recent years.
Will West Ham ever learn? When they were relegated in 2003, it was partly because a failure to start the season with enough strikers forced them to play Ian Pearce up front for a short period after injuries to Paolo Di Canio and Freddie Kanouté. Such mismanagement was supposed to be a thing of the past and yet West Ham have entered this season with one fit striker, Modibo Maïga, who has struggled. They cannot blame misfortune. West Ham knew Andy Carroll, whose fitness record is questionable, had a heel injury when they signed him for a record £15m from Liverpool. Making his loan deal permanent was a risk worth taking but it was obvious that they needed to sign another striker given that Carlton Cole had left when his contract expired. Instead Sam Allardyce signed Stewart Downing, even though he had four players to use in wide positions, and then said no more money was available unless players were sold. However, last Saturday's insipid defeat at home to Stoke caused mild panic and led to an unsuccessful attempt to sign Demba Ba on loan from Chelsea on deadline day. Then came Tuesday's news that Cole had been offered a short-term deal to return to the club. Two days later, the move was off after Cole failed a fitness test. No, West Ham will never learn.