André Villas-Boas has undoubtedly been targeted for premature and disingenuous criticism already this season, but it is also true that his start at Spurs has not been terribly encouraging. The Portuguese says he bears no scars from his unhappy sojourn at Stamford Bridge but uncharacteristically cautious setups and tentative play by his team suggest otherwise. On Sunday Moussa Dembélé is likely to make his first start for the club and Clint Dempsey may do too: those changes, plus less coyness from the full-backs and a higher tempo from the whole side, could put Spurs back on the front foot, which is where they need to get if AVB is to silence sceptics.
It may not happen against Sunderland this weekend, of course, but sooner rather than later Brendan Rodgers will carry out his threat to try the failing winger at left-back. The reason the manager is pondering such a measure is not only because of Downing's ineffectiveness in midfield but, surely, because of the dreadful deterioration in José Enrique's performances since he arrived at Anfield. Stig Inge Bjornebye, Julian Dicks, Djimi Traoré, Josemi, Jan Kromkamp and Paul Konchesky: this is the Left-Back Roll of Shame on which José Enrique now belongs. Downing has been a disappointment so far but he's unlikely to make Liverpool's problem position any worse.
Chris Hughton has known since he arrived at Carrow Road that the key to staving off relegation is improving Norwich's defence, so he must have been aghast as Fulham battered the Canaries as if they were impudent cod on the opening day. Since then, however, the manager has introduced a new central defensive pairing and Sébastien Bassong and Leon Barnett have looked solid so far; West Ham's set-piece prowess will provide a test that the pair have yet to face together. If they pass it, hope that Norwich can make the grade this season will grow.
And we don't necessarily mean the gestures that will be aimed at John Terry if he turns up. Rather, both these teams need to start showing greater cohesion if they are to fulfil the hopes invested in them this season. QPR have been mostly disjointed so far as they as they attempt to make sensible use of their unwieldy new squad, while Chelsea have also been unbalanced, with the newly cavalier Mikel John Obi personifying the contrast between their attacking gusto and defensive chaos. Suddenly Mikel is akin to Steven Gerrard, albeit only insofar as we must wonder if he can play in the same midfield as Frank Lampard.
Everyone is chuffed when their club signs a bona fide star but a different, purer sense of satisfaction is released when a manager makes a success of a less high-profile talent, especially one sourced in the lower leagues from under the snooty noses of everyone else. The qualities of Robert Snodgrass and Garath McCleary were there for all to see, but only Norwich and Reading believed in them enough to buy: the early indications are that both players will enhance the Premier League.
Steve Bould has helped pull off the impressive feat of improving Arsenal's defence even without their best defender of last season, Laurent Koscielny. But Arsenal, despite their fine win at Anfield, have yet to demonstrate that they have overcome the loss of their best forward of last season. That is mainly because Giroud has yet to demonstrate the cutting edge needed to crown his otherwise decent displays. He should get plenty of chances to do so against Southampton, ahead of league clashes with Chelsea and Manchester City. If the Frenchman starts finding the net, those two teams will have cause to fear and Arsenal will be genuine title contenders.
What better way to prepare for a trip to the Bernabéu than with a trip to the Britannia? Three days before taking on Cristiano Ronaldo & Co, Roberto Mancini's men will go head-to-head with Robert Huth & Co. This is definitely a battle for which the visitors will need the combative qualities of Yaya Touré and Carlos Tevez but will Mancini, who is under intense pressure to make progress in the Champions League this season, rest them? If he does, will he be made to regret it? And if he doesn't, will he be made to regret it?
Wigan outnumbered and outplayed United in midfield when beating them in April to turn the title race back in City's favour, and there is ample reason to believe that they could do the same this weekend. Paul Scholes brought sharpness and subtlety to United when he came on against Southampton but the 37-year-old can no longer be expected to do that consistently; Tom Cleverley could do with producing a Moldova performance rather than a Ukraine one if he is to compensate for United's creativity deficit, especially if Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie are absent because of knocks picked up on international duty.
When it comes to the Premier League's canniest pound-for-pound recruiters in recent times, West Brom and Fulham must be right up there with Swansea. Fulham, however, may find that they have banked rather too heavily on the quick integration of new players as they try to avoid a dip in performances following the loss of several key midfielders this summer; Albion, by contrast, have made only minor changes but one of the new arrivals, Yacob, has already made an impressive impact, neatly providing a sturdy screen for an already sturdy defence and a platform players such as James Morrison, Zoltan Gera and Graham Dorrans to express their attacking verve. Albion have been a pleasure to watch so far.
The Scot is striving to cook up more palatable fare than the swill that Villa fans were invited to dine on under Alex McLeish but Lambert is no dogmatist. So far this season his side have at least aspired to pass slickly but have only succeeded sporadically and are certainly nowhere near as fluent as Swansea. The need for an alternative is obviously why Lambert signed the powerful targetman Christian Benteke on deadline day. On Saturday, then, Villa could be given an easier route to the frontline if they again find it hard to thread passes to Darren Bent. Provided, of course, they can get the ball off Swansea.