Ian Darke's way too early Premier League impressions: Only Liverpool have a chance to catch Man City
First impressions can be misleading. Nobody should be jumping to any conclusions after two Premier League games. But just possibly we are getting one or two clues about what lies ahead.
For instance, any idea that Manchester City might start slowly because they had 16 players at the World Cup already looks ridiculous. The slightly manic Pep Guardiola is hardly the type of coach to let them rest on their laurels, either. The impressive wins over Arsenal and Huddersfield suggest City are fired up to retain their crown, with Sergio Aguero, in particular, on fantastic form.
The newly released fly-on-the-wall Manchester City documentary, "All or Nothing," also reveals a happy, unified camp, though we may only be seeing the bits they wanted us to see.
The only possible rocks in the road are the long-term injuries to Kevin De Bruyne and Claudio Bravo, whose Achilles injury sent the club scrambling for a back-up keeper. (They've recalled Aro Muric from a loan at Dutch side NAC Breda.)
Could it also be that the World Cup hangover might kick in a little later in the season? Players coming off the back of a World Cup often talk about how they start the season feeling very sharp, only to find themselves struggling by October. If that is the case, Manchester City aren't the only team that could be in trouble. Take Spurs, whose entire team was in Russia. As it is, Tottenham have made a good start despite not making any signings during the summer transfer window and dropping a public relations clanger with the delayed opening to their new stadium.
Manchester United, meanwhile, are up to their necks in turmoil and embarrassment. How can United go into a game at Brighton with the "wrong attitude," as captain Paul Pogba claimed after the 3-2 defeat?
Any fool could have told him that Brighton would contest every blade of grass and that United would need to match that intensity to take anything from the game. For heaven's sake, United knew all that because they lost at the same stadium last season!
Jose Mourinho has to take most of the blame if his team were not mentally prepared for the task, but you need to ask questions of the players, too. The discord and strained relations at the club suggest this might be the beginning of the end for Mourinho.
The increasingly moody manager always comes with baggage -- tolerable if United are winning, less palatable when they're not. It all builds towards Monday when United host Spurs, a match that looks like a tinder box, especially for Mourinho.
Already the bookmakers have Mourinho at evens to be gone by Christmas.
Elsewhere, Maurizio Sarri's attempts to turn Chelsea into Napoli, his previous club, will delight fans. New signing Jorginho has already impressed the Stamford Bridge faithful, while Sarri has rescued David Luiz and Alvaro Morata from footballing Siberia.
It has been a bright start, but fans will be a little concerned at the huge number of chances Chelsea gave up to Arsenal last weekend. The Gunners could have scored five or six. If they're to make a run at a top-four spot, Chelsea will have to tighten up their defence.
Similarly, Arsenal are a work in progress under their new man, Unai Emery. Do they have the pace at the back to play such a high line? But the Gunners will improve from their tough start and look capable of scoring plenty. The top four might be beyond them this season, however.
Nothing has happened yet to change the preseason prediction that Liverpool will be Man City's biggest challengers. The 2-0 win at Crystal Palace on Monday was exactly the kind of professional display they will need to repeat time and again in difficult assignments on the road. And, of course, the dynamic and nimble Naby Keita looks like a wonderful addition to Jurgen Klopp's midfield.
As for the relegation battle, it's hard to see Cardiff or Huddersfield scoring enough goals to stay up.
The surprise early season strugglers are West Ham, who spent big but are hindered by a midfield in which Mark Noble and Jack Wilshere look short of mobility. Time enough for much to change. Remember: West Bromwich Albion won their first two games last season, only to be relegated.
But it's still early days. There are many chapters still to write.