Premier Ratings: Utopia, chickens and Noddy's hat
FourFourTwo.com editor Gary Parkinson allocates the averages for this weekend's Premier League performances...
MAN UNITED 8.5
(W 3-0, Spurs H)
Dig the new breed. Yet again youth gets its head and rewards Ferguson's faith. The rejuvenated Red Devils' second-youngest line-up ever (average age 22.9) showed startling maturity, keeping their heads as the clocked ticked on then ruthlessly exposing Spurs as the visitors vainly chased parity.
MAN CITY 8
(W 3-2, Bolton A)
The allegedly defensive grinders have bagged nine goals in three games with attacking talent to spare (sorry Signor Ballotelli) and more to come. They'll face less expansive opponents than Swansea and Bolton but you feel they're ready to be dour or delightful as circumstance demands.
(W 2-0, Arsenal A)
After fading badly against Sunderland, Liverpool finished with creative determination fuelled by astute substitutions. It's a long time since Arsenal completed fewer passes than their opponents but Henderson, Adam and Downing are finding their (and each other's) feet, the full-backs are impressing and Liverpool have options.
(W 1-0, Sunderland A)
If you can keep your headÃ¢ÂÂ¦ United reacted well to the Larsson brouhaha and Pardew's perceptive half-time switch (pulling Cabaye deeper and pushing Barton wide) paved the way to control and ultimate victory. With their centre-back pairing again impeccable, Newcastle enjoyed derby superiority Ã¢ÂÂ again.
(W 1-0, Everton A)
One shot on target, but it sure counted. Despite a widespread stomach bug the Rs matched Everton in most departments, turning the home fans in on themselves and enjoying a benchmark day while also looking forward to a future bankrolled by the new owner. No wonder Warnock waffled about Utopia.
(D 1-1, Norwich A)
Tired by European exertions and facing an expectant Canary crowd, Stoke let the ball do the work and outpassed Norwich, claiming majority possession for the first time in Pulis's top-flight reign. The red card helped but it was the Potters' determination that made the difference.
(W 2-0, Fulham H)
(Briefly) top for the first time since the 1973 heyday of Noddy Holder's mirrored hat, Wolves flattened phlegmatic Fulham with a quick one-two before half-time. A defence well marshalled by Roger Johnson was rarely troubled and a three-sided Molineux rejoiced.
WEST BROM 7
(L 1-2, Chelsea A)
Again unluckily beaten by a late goal from much richer opponents, Roy Hodgson can be content: Baggies defended doggedly, should have doubled their lead and Shane Long looks a bargain who might link well with Odemwingie. Good for them: with Stoke and Norwich next up, they need to convert promise into points.
(L 2-3, Man City H)
Though you sense Man City had gears to go through had they not been gifted goals, Bolton performed with the sort of pluck and panache for which their fans will forgive defeat to heavyweights. Coyle needs more men but the ones he's got are playing to his wishes, attacking with optimism.
(D 1-1, Stoke H)
Much was made of a clash of styles but Paul Lambert made six changes to counter Stoke, Grant Holt battered away up front and the home side scored with a defender's header from a set-piece. That versatility will be needed and the ref won't always drop a clanger like Barnett's red card.
ASTON VILLA 6
(W 3-1, Blackburn H)
Villa's sparsest league crowd in four years watched their front three dismantle desperate Blackburn. Agbonlahor aped Ashley Young's cut-in-from-the-left schtick to great effect, Heskey did his pivotal thing and Bent sniffed out a goal. Big Eck will be pleased but bigger tests await.
(D 0-0, Swansea A)
Ceding possession but shading territorial advantage, Wigan could and should have spoiled Swansea's party. Watching from a safe distance as the hosts passed without probing, Latics displayed greater street-savvy as the game went on, hitting post and bar before failing from the penalty spot.
(D 0-0, Wigan H)
Cold water alert: Swansea are still to score and Michel Vorm has already saved 14 shots on target, including Ben Watson's penalty. City are passing prettily but not yet piercingly Ã¢ÂÂ they had the top seven players for completed passes but Wigan's Jordi Gomez completed more than any where it counts, in the final third.
(L 0-2, Liverpool H)
Not outplayed, despite the hysteria: statistically Liverpool shaded it by the narrowest of margins, while practically Arsenal were undone by a naive red card, two questionable offside calls, an unlucky deflection and a lack of defensive cover. Wenger can't change all of those things but which will he address first?
(L 0-3, Man United A)
No shame in losing at Old Trafford Ã¢ÂÂ most teams do Ã¢ÂÂ and Redknapp may be right that chasing the game only increased the damage. But Spurs' lack of incisiveness only made them miss Modric more, and there's a far more important battle to win there: he may be Redknapp's most important transfer coup this week.
(W 2-1, West Brom H)
With half-time boos for the Blues, AVB almost barged into Arsene Wenger's spotlight: had West Brom held (or extended) their lead, the new Bridge boss would have been under extreme early examination. Fittingly for a team in transition it took a very un-AVB switch to 4-4-2 to win. Help and change are on the way; both seem needed.
(L 0-2, Wolves A)
Tired already? Martin Jol doesn't think so, but a side that has looked almost impregnable in Europe seemed curiously inert in the Midlands. The absence of Bobby Zamora shouldn't cause the almost total absence of attacking initiative Fulham displayed and this time round Danny Murphy couldn't claim they were kicked out of it.
(L 0-1, QPR H)
Everton starting poorly is nothing new but this time it feels worryingly ominous. The squad is thin, the chairman admits they're skint and the manager's withdrawal of their one striker prompted boos. Ross Barkley showed great promise but how Moyes must envy QPR's prosperity, positivity and potential.
(L 0-1, Newcastle H)
Daft to think Steve Bruce is under pressure, but derby defeats hurt and his team lost composure, shape and eventually face. Where Sunderland were savage Newcastle were savvy, and after heavy expenditure Bruce needs wins. Pity their next visitors are Chelsea.
(L 1-3, Aston Villa A)
Unlike most, Steve Kean saw the positives and his side were far from outclassed, if just as far from promising. For all the talk of Ronaldinho and Raul, Kean has gathered just 22 points in 23 games and Venky's chickens may be coming home to roost. Rovers need help but they also need stability.
HEROES & VILLAINS Pickpockets, Greg Goodridge & soggy sandwiches