Why José will be making secret eyes at Wayne
Now that the newly styled guardian of transfer ethics has revealed it simply wouldn't be proper to do anything like pass a piece of paper with a stupendous offer to anyone connected with Old Trafford this week while nobody else is looking, let's work on the premise that José Mourinho is focused on the strikers currently at his disposal. After Branislav Ivanovic helped Chelsea to a maximum points start to the season, Mourinho explained that he had deliberately given his three forwards a similar amount of game time so far. Not exactly an audition, but they were all allowed to stake a claim. Fernando Torres had 75 minutes against Hull, Demba Ba 65 against Aston Villa and Romelu Lukaku 40 in a couple of substitute appearances. Whether any of them look just the ticket to lead a Mourinho team is up for debate. Manchester United showed in their opening day win at Swansea the benefits of an established forward line, with Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck, supported by Wayne Rooney's cameo, looking slick. Mourinho does not have that luxury yet. AL
Mutiny on Tyneside
It is possible to read too much into Newcastle United's 4-0 thrashing by Manchester City on Monday. While they were certainly accommodating opponents, City hit a peak that few sides would have been able to handle and Newcastle will not be the last team to leave the Etihad Stadium with their pride in tatters. Yet for all Alan Pardew's manufactured fury about Arsenal's bid for Yohan Cabaye, it was hardly a performance to engender too much optimism on Tyneside, Steven Taylor's bone-headed red card for clunking Sergio Agüero round the head was a particular low point, and by the 90th minute the visiting support was veering towards mutiny, as they implored Mike Ashley to "spend some money". If it makes Arsène Wenger feel any better, he is not alone.
The frustration of a bewildering summer, in which Pardew's position was seemingly weakened by Joe Kinnear's appointment as director of football, is threatening to boil over. So far, Kinnear's impact has been minimal, while patience is wearing thin with Pardew, who could at least point to a horrendous injury list and the demands of the Europa League when the team struggled during the first half of last season. Speak to fans now, though, and they seem mystified by Pardew's tactics. There is hardly a lack of talent at Newcastle but against City, their defence was disorganised, the midfield was incoherent and Papiss Cissé was isolated in attack.
They will need to improve in almost every area against West Ham at St James' Park, where they were beaten 3-0 by Sunderland, 6-0 by Liverpool and 1-0 by Arsenal in their final three home fixtures last season. Pardew knows that Newcastle can't go on like this. JS
Arsenal may need to call up Steve Bould for defensive cover
As heartening as Arsenal's expert Champions League qualification job was in Turkey in midweek, it is not always easy to return to Premier League duty after an extra game so early in the season. Two years ago, Arsenal were infamously shellshocked after their Champions League qualifiers against Udinese (after the first leg they lost 2-0 at home to Liverpool, and after the second leg stumbled into that 8-2 hammering at Old Trafford). Clicking into the kind of "intensity" Theo Walcott purred about at Fenerbahce will be a challenge against a well prepared Fulham. Wenger has little room for rotation manoeuvre, either, particularly in defence, where Arsenal have one fit and available centre-half in Per Mertesacker. Bacary Sagna will move across to help. Fulham will be keen to target a reshuffled, and possibly tired, back four. AL
Don't forget about Lambert
There is understandable excitement at Southampton after the £14.6m signing of Pablo Osvaldo from Roma. This is clearly a club that is going places yet Mauricio Pochettino must be careful not to forget about the players who have taken them this far. Indeed, Rickie Lambert could be forgiven for feeling a bit like Woody to Osvaldo's Buzz Lightyear. Lambert made a goalscoring debut for England last week and scored the winning penalty against West Brom but Southampton have made Osvaldo, a 27-year-old Italian international, their record signing. Pochettino has said he does not envisage any problems and perhaps Lambert, who is 31, will relish the extra competition. However, as much as Southampton fans will be itching to see Osvaldo in action against Sunderland, it should surely not be at Lambert's expense. Not yet, anyway. JS
Where will Franco Baldini spend his weekend?
The man with the Spurs plan has certainly had an eventful summer. Rarely has a man arrived in a technical director role and had such an immediately transformative effect. His efficiency, contacts book and negotiating nous have ensured Gareth Bale's departure will not leave Tottenham fans feeling too bereft. Smartly done. Baldini is arguably their signing of the summer, and the feeling persists that he has not finished yet as Tottenham continue to embellish their squad with a variety of talent. After away games at Crystal Palace and Dinamo Tbilisi, the crowd at White Hart Lane will arrive to welcome new faces bursting with anticipation. Swansea should ensure it is an open game full of breezy intent. AL
Signs of a more proactive Stoke
Tony Pulis's football at Stoke City was effective for a while but it was a tired act by the end. They had finally been worked out and it was undoubtedly time for Pulis, who wasted millions on sub-standard players, to leave. He has been replaced by Mark Hughes, a man with a rather large point to prove after his disastrous spell at QPR. Given time, Hughes could turn out to be a shrewd appointment. His work at Blackburn and Fulham proves that he is a capable manager and although Hughes began with a defeat at Liverpool, there were signs of Stoke attempting to play more of a passing game. The transition is unlikely to be easy – these are mostly still Pulis's players and Liverpool were too strong to be beaten at their own game. Crystal Palace might be more obliging opponents, though. Stoke have won twice at the Britannia Stadium in 2013 but this is a glorious opportunity for Hughes to endear himself to his new fans. JS
Hull and Cardiff looking for home comfort
A home game for Cardiff City in the Premier League's top flight has been a long time coming and raucous excitement is guaranteed. They probably could have done with a gentler opponent than a Manchester City side eminently capable of scything through them at will, however. After an underwhelming start to the campaign, losing 2-0 at West Ham, an encouraging performance for their first outing on home turf would be a huge boon. Solid home form is imperative for newly promoted teams, so it's vital for Cardiff and Hull City – who host Norwich – to make a statement if they possibly can. AL
Swansea's first Thursday-Sunday test
Despite all the predictions about how well Swansea are going to do this season, there have been those urging caution. That has little to do with the quality of Michael Laudrup's squad and more to do with how they handle the demands of the Europa League with their league campaign, which has derailed plenty of teams in the past. This will be their first experience of the dreaded Thursday-Sunday combination: Petrolul Ploiesti at home on Thursday, Tottenham away on Sunday. It will be a challenge. At least Tottenham are in the same boat and will have had little time to recover from the journey home from Georgia. JS
Villa shaping up to exceed all reasonable early expectation
David Moyes might have been the loudest complainer about the fixture list but there are other managers who had reason to feel miffed. Paul Lambert is one, and he made no bones about the fact nobody expected fireworks from an opening schedule of Arsenal (away), Chelsea (away), Liverpool (home). As it turned out Villa have caught the eye with a combination of a tightened defence, relentless effort in midfield and effective attacking contributions with the speed of Gabriel Agbonlahor and willingness of Andreas Weimann around the might of Christian Benteke. They were rightly aggrieved not to add to their points total at Chelsea in midweek. Lambert will push his team to carry that form into their first home game against Liverpool. AL
A response from West Brom
Since the turn of the year, West Bromwich Albion have picked up 16 points in 19 Premier League games. That is relegation form and a far cry from the early days of last season, when there was such momentum under Steve Clarke. Anything seemed possible then; when West Brom won 4-2 at Sunderland in November, they went third and there was talk of Europe. The subsequent slide down the table wasn't especially surprising but the anaemic manner of their slump was alarming. With nothing to play for, West Brom put their feet up and drifted aimlessly until the end of the season. The assumption was that they would return with renewed hunger but they were worryingly flat in the 1-0 home defeat by Southampton. Lose at Everton on Saturday and Clarke will be under the spotlight. JS