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Match 17
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It's only been two weeks, but Manchester United look scarily good

Already it seems that this is going to be one of those seasons where popular narrative struggles to keep up with reality. Chelsea's crisis, such as it was, appears to be over now that they've beaten Tottenham at Wembley, who in turn will have to spend an uncomfortable seven days hearing talk of curses until Burnley's visit next weekend.

Arsenal weren't in crisis but probably are now while Manchester United, who were hitherto considered slow and stodgy, are now about as slow and stodgy as a T-1000. At the bottom of the table, those who considered West Ham to have bought well in the summer have fallen silent and those of us who thought that Newcastle would be just fine are now hurriedly trying to delete their tweets.

All that and we're only two match days into the campaign...

Performance of the week

It might only be two wins against two weak teams but there's still something ominous about Manchester United.

There's something distinctly militaristic about them in these early stages. They are physically strong and very well organised. They take control of the game quickly and then slowly exert their will on it. They always seem to have power in reserve -- or at least they did until the last 10 minutes against Swansea when they let fly with a brutal flurry of late goals.

With their wealth of attacking midfielders, Manchester City are probably better able to change a game but on this evidence, Manchester United may not ever have to.

The season still has a long way to go but teams should beware Man United's fast start.

Worst day at the office

It's hard to imagine how West Ham boss Slaven Bilic's day could have been any worse. Not only were West Ham spectacularly inept for 44 minutes against Southampton but they even had the bad manners to recover and seem to rescue the game with 10 men only to throw it away in the last minute by giving away a penalty.

And that penalty!

Apparently Mark Noble wandered up to Charlie Austin and whispered of his goalkeeper, "he knows you're going to hit it to the right," in an effort to make Austin doubt himself. Austin thanked his opponent and duly slotted the ball to the left. "Thanks, Nobes!" Austin said later.

Heads, not shoulders

There are some who believe that no professional footballer should have a "weaker" foot. That these men are paid small fortunes and like George Best, to name just one player from yesteryear, should be suitably incentivised to practice until the weakness disappears.

This weekend, Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck demonstrated the lesser-seen "weaker head." Here are two men who specialise in two positions where heading is considered a core skill and both of them managed to ruin great scoring chances by inadvertently "shouldering" the ball towards goal. This is simply not good enough.

Favourite new toy

Of the many early conclusions to be drawn from last weekend's clash between Everton and Stoke, the Potters' desperate need for quality was particularly prominent. Well, they now have that quality. The capture of Jese Rodriguez could be transformative for manager Mark Hughes, currently one bad run of form away from sending the Stoke supporters to the airport with a 30ft long banner.

It's not just Jese's ability, which is obvious to anyone; it's the desire he demonstrated throughout the win over Arsenal. He'll fit in just fine.

Weekend wally

Arnautovic's brainless red card for a clear elbow doomed West Ham. Doesn't he know better?

You would think that Jonjo Shelvey's very obvious stamp last Sunday would serve as a warning to all Premier League footballers to try to be a little more sneaky but apparently someone forgot to CC in Marko Arnautovic.

It is entirely possible to disguise a thrown elbow as an innocent arm stretched out for balance, but Arnautovic didn't bother with such subtleties. His thrown elbow couldn't have been much more obvious without him stopping the game, appealing for silence and then unleashing a spectacular display of fireworks that spelled out the words "THAT WAS A DELIBERATE ELBOW" in a thousand different colours.

And he still had the cheek to complain that he was sent off.

Goal of the day

Newcastle have many problems but they are an organised and difficult unit to break down. Even on a bad day, like Sunday's visit to Huddersfield, it still takes something special to beat them. Fortunately, Huddersfield spent £10 million on Aaron Mooy and he is, it appears, something special.

The Terriers have had a few special moments in what they know now as the John Smiths Stadium since moving there in 1994 but they may not have ever made a noise like they did when Mooy sent his second half hit screaming into the back of the net.

Dirty trick of the day

Shame on you, Harry Arter. Granted, we've all wondered from time to time what would happen if someone shouted "LEAVE IT!" when an opponent was about to shoot, but few of us would have actually tried it. Poor old Nathaniel Chalobah. Trained by the very best youth coaches at Chelsea, he heard the shout and instantly lifted his foot over the ball to let it run free for his "teammate."

Only then did he realise the awful truth. Technically, of course, Arter should have been booked for ungentlemanly conduct but he may have been let off on the basis that it was really funny.

One to watch next week

It is, of course, far too early for relegation battles but if there is to be a loser from Saturday's forthcoming clash between Crystal Palace and Swansea, it could be a long, sad international break for them at the bottom of the table.

Neither team has managed to score a goal yet. Palace were improved against Liverpool but still lost 1-0 due to a single Luka Milivojevic error while Swansea held out reasonably well against Manchester United right up until the moment when they couldn't have held out against a mild summer breeze.

No pressure, lads.

Iain Macintosh covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @IainMacintosh.


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