August review: Man United flying high, dismal starts for Arsenal, Harry Kane
It was an eventful and wildly entertaining opening month of the Premier League season. Adam Hurrey looks back at August's winners, losers and biggest storylines.
Who won the month? Manchester United
Firstly, some numbers. If we (conveniently) take Jose Mourinho's three title-winning Premier League seasons and throw this season's start into the mix, his August record reads as follows: played 14, won 14, 35 goals scored, five conceded.
When he gets what he wants in the transfer market and his dressing room is a harmonious one, nobody gets out of the domestic blocks better than he does. As with Chelsea, Mourinho has moulded his team from the spine out. While Nemanja Matic has slotted in with languid ease in midfield and Romelu Lukaku already looks like he'll spend the next decade thumping home 30 a season, others are finally beginning to flourish. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a peripheral figure last season, has now equalled a 23-year-old Premier League record of five assists in the first three games.
On current evidence, September's tests -- trips to Stoke and Southampton and visits from Everton and Crystal Palace -- are unlikely to dampen Mourinho's traditional late-summer mood.
Who lost the month? Arsenal
Christmas seems to start earlier every year, they say, and so too does the live dissection of the state of Arsenal. The running joke (among many) is that the Gunners essentially endure the same season over and over again, but their long-term malaise is gradually evolving. When once there was a preoccupation with their trophy drought under Arsene Wenger and then with the lack of money being spent, there is now an overwhelming feeling that all of this is now irreversible under the current regime.
Last season's Emirates tension -- which culminated in missing out on the Champions League for the first time in 20 years -- seemed enough to bring about wholesale change, but still Wenger clung on because he knows little else.
Arsenal continue to pride themselves on their stability, but this summer has proved beyond all doubt that stability is obsolete. After three different decades of Wenger, it might be as simple as a new face hitting the reset button.
Player of the month: Sadio Mane
His highlight reel from the first three weeks of the season would be enough to sustain most players for a whole season, but there are two moments from August that have summed up Sadio Mane's emergence as Liverpool's most vital component.
First, in the violent, second-leg dismantling of Hoffenheim in the Champions League playoff round, there was a startling reminder of Mane's sheer speed. From a standing start, he left Havard Nordtveit for dead. It was like an Olympic sprinter bursting out of the blocks.
Second, his goal against Arsenal that rubber-stamped his team's total dominance just before half-time at Anfield. Twelves seconds after recovering the ball in their own penalty area, Liverpool swept upfield, through the polystyrene Arsenal midfield, before supplying Mane in his most potent position on the left of the 18-yard box at the other end. Having been welcomed inside onto his right foot, Mane unleashed a furious shot into the far corner, with the pace and whip to beat Petr Cech at full stretch.
Direct, single-minded and efficient: There has been no better advert for blistering pace.
Match of the month: Arsenal 4-3 Leicester
The purists weren't happy; the season should begin in the glorious Saturday sunshine. But as one tradition was eroded, some things were looking very familiar under the Friday night lights. In fact, that Arsenal managed to squeeze an entire season of Arsenal into just 90 minutes was the most impressive thing of all.
They started brightly, Alexandre Lacazette scored within two minutes, and the Emirates purred. Then the defensive fragility was exposed, Leicester led before the half-hour mark, and the Emirates howled. Eventually, after sharing six eminently preventable goals, the two breathless sides were separated by a late Olivier Giroud cameo.
Leicester still have most of the energy that propelled them to that increasingly distant title, and that contributed to the fascinating chaos, but Arsenal finished the game with a midfielder at right-back, two left-backs at centre-back and a right-back at left-back. Things aren't supposed to unravel like this until at least March.
This match alone posed the question: Does anyone have the energy to go through nine more months of Arsenal introspection?
Goal of the month: Charlie Daniels vs. Manchester City
Many a thunderous wonder goal has come from a ball being only half-cleared from the box, but Vincent Kompany would have been forgiven for thinking that his header put the ball to reasonable safety in the early stages of Manchester City's trip to Bournemouth.
Nevertheless, as the ball bounced to the left-hand edge of the box, it laid up perfectly for Charlie Daniels.
The rest was pure geometry and devastating physics, as Daniels took full advantage of a one-in-a-million series of micro-events to stride onto the ball, swipe across it with instinctive power and send it scorching into the opposite top corner of Ederson's goal.
Not one single camera angle did it a disservice, particularly the one that caught several City fans launching into Pavlovian applause. There might be more sophisticated goals scored in the Premier League this season, but none of them will be as utterly satisfying to either witness or perform.
Good month for: centre forwards
After what has seemed like a decade-long identity crisis, football has decided that it can't, after all, live without the classic No. 9.
The best part of £200 million (still a vast amount of money, no matter how desensitised we become to it all) was committed to bringing three unquestionably central goal scorers into the title-race mix. Romelu Lukaku, the most known Premier League quantity possible, made a no-brainer move to become Manchester United's logical spearhead. Chelsea, jilted by the Belgian, instead moved for Alvaro Morata, who sorely needed to break out of his big-club backup role to become the main man somewhere. Meanwhile, Arsenal finally provided the exit route for Alexandre Lacazette, who had comfortably outgrown Ligue 1.
Each of them scored in his debut. While Lukaku picked up where he had left off at Everton, Morata and Lacazette needed barely 10 minutes of Premier League football between them to open their accounts in English football.
The price tag remains a premium one, but it's reassuring to see centre-forwards taking centre stage once again.
Bad month for: hoodoo sufferers
Here's how hoodoos work: 1) Someone suggests there is a hoodoo, 2) Everyone quickly agrees that hoodoos are not a thing, 3) The mere talk of a hoodoo eventually creates a psychological burden that we can conveniently call ... a hoodoo.
In Tottenham's case, two hoodoos have dovetailed nicely.
Last season, their final one at White Hart Lane, they dropped just four points in 19 Premier League games. That threshold has been passed within 180 minutes at their temporary new home of Wembley, compounding their puzzlingly fragile displays at the national stadium in European football last season.
Mauricio Pochettino had little time for talk of the Wembley factor before, and so questions of square-yardage and crowd noise are unlikely to improve his mood now. The theory that visiting teams will treat each Wembley fixture like "a cup final" has been put forward, a conveniently unquantifiable way to explain the apparently unexplainable.
Meanwhile, and even less comprehensibly, Harry Kane's struggle with the beast of August continues. Thirteen games, 42 shots, zero Premier League goals in the opening month. At Wembley, his curse is even more pronounced: Kane fired in no fewer than 18 shots against Chelsea and Burnley this season. Spurs have just a single point to show for it.
The good news is that -- thanks to the Gregorian calendar and the micromanaging Pochettino -- things can only get better.
What September needs to deliver: a challenger
Someone to get close to Manchester United's feathers, let alone ruffle them. Elsewhere, Ronald Koeman's revamped Everton -- after a win, a draw and a defeat in August -- have two more shots at big guns (a visit from Spurs and a trip to United) to finally give us some sort of clue about their longer-term prospects.
Also, if possible, a first Premier League goal for Brighton. Why should Huddersfield have all the fun?
Adam Hurrey analyses the language of football. You can follow him on Twitter: @FootballCliches.