The mist of international fortnight finally lifted on Saturday as the Premier League roared back into our lives.
Most eyes were on White Hart Lane as the round began, with Jurgen Klopp taking charge of Liverpool for the first time. It wasn’t a classic in the end, but there were signs of life from the Reds.
There were also heartening displays for Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Man United, in what proved to be a good weekend for the big boys.
Here, then, are ten things we learned:
1. The hard work now begins for Jurgen Klopp
By Andy Dunn
The brutal truth exposed by Klopp’s Premier League initiation was that players had stopped giving Brendan Rodgers extreme levels of zeal and commitment.
Because that is exactly what Klopp elicited in a contest as high on exertion as it was low on excellence. This was mediocrity at a merciless pace.
There is always a psychological reflex when a new boss arrives. In any profession. But if a Liverpool squad of dubious quality can reproduce this phenomenal level of physical application in every game, the only reason for failure – whatever form that takes – will be the dearth of stellar talent.
Even when he has a relatively well-stocked roster – with the likes of Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino to choose from – Klopp will find it a mountainous task to turn this Liverpool squad into top four probables rather than top four possibles.
There was a lot of hard work at White Hart Lane … but for Klopp, that hard work has only just begun.
2. David De Gea is priceless for Manchester United
By David Maddock
We say it almost every week, but Louis van Gaal’s side would look a lot more ordinary but for their goalkeeper making huge saves at massive moments in the game.
At Goodison Park, an Everton side trailing 2-0 came sprinting out of the blocks for the second half, but were repelled by two incredible stops from the Spaniard.
3. Howard Kendall will be sorely missed
By David Maddock
Don’t let the way his later spells at Everton tarnish his reputation, because what Kendall achieved at Everton in his first spell didn’t just make him a true Blue great, it made him a management great full stop.
Think about this, when he took over, the club was overshadowed by neighbours who boasted one of the – if not THE – best sides in Liverpool history, and one who were the best in Europe at the time. In the space of four miraculous years, he took the Blues not only past Liverpool but to become the best team in Europe.
That is a remarkable achievement in itself, but to do it at the age of 40 was then completely unheard of. Put that into context, he produced one of the most remarkable stories in English football history when still younger than Eddie Howe is now.
His Everton team, the classic one with a spine of Ratcliffe, Reid, Bracewell, Steven and Sharp, did something that no other sides managed at that time, which was to play attractive football at a high tempo.
When Everton won the league for the second time under him, other English clubs realised they would have to play a similar, athletic game, and that ushered in a more professional, fitness-based game.
4. Baba Rahman had a mare for Chelsea
By John Cross
Have you noticed Jose Mourinho’s barbs about Chelsea’s summer transfer dealings? Well, the theory is The Special One wasn’t particularly keen on signing Ghana full back Baba Rahman.
And no wonder. Baba cost £21.7m from Ausburg and is the most unlike Mourinho full-back you can imagine. He made his first Premier League start against Aston Villa and it’s fair to say his game is about attack being the best form of defence.
5. Raheem Sterling stepped up for Man City
By David McDonnell
Substituted at half-time during City’s 6-1 demolition of Newcastle because of a below-par display, Raheem Sterling produced the best possible response with the first Premier League hat-trick of his career in the win over Bournemouth.
Defenders were unable to cope with Sterling’s pace, movement and trickery, the pick of his hat-trick his second goal, where he left three opponents on the deck before steering the ball into the net.
6. Saido Berahino can earn his keep at West Brom
By James Nursey
Record signing Salomon Rondon continues to find the Premier League hard work: the Venezuelan was subbed in West Brom’s win over Sunderland, while fellow newboy Rickie Lambert is also yet to tear up The Hawthorns.
But fortunately, Albion kept Saido Berahino in August when he wanted to go to Spurs. He remains their most dangerous player and best finisher… as he showed with the winner, which condemned Sam Allardyce to defeat in his first game as Black Cats boss.
7. West Ham are away specialists
By Neil McLeman
Winning at Selhurst Park these days is almost as impressive as taking three points from Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.
This was a different victory as Slaven Bilic’s side played over half of the game against ten men and Palace sat in and defended after the break.
8. Jamie Vardy cannot stop scoring
By Ann Gripper
A first England goal may be elusive but the Leicester striker became the fourth Englishman to score in six successive Premier League games this century, joining Michael Owen, James Beattie and Daniel Sturridge.
And he added another for good measure to earn the Foxes a point away to Southampton. A good thing too as otherwise he would have missed the two great chances he could not bury in between his two goals.
9. Arsenal CAN mount a title challenge
By Mike Walters
Although this may be the year when they miss out on the Champions League knockout stage, there is still plenty of time for the Gunners to mount a sustained title challenge.
Even when they are not firing on all cylinders – and the first 45 minutes at Vicarage Road was pretty average – there is more than enough pace to burn in Arsene Wenger’s 20th year at the helm.
10. Gigi Wijnaldum is repaying is transfer fee
By Simon Bird
The former PSV midfielder has had a major culture shock since his move from a championship winning side to a struggle on Tyneside.
While Chancel Mbemba has been steady and Aleksandar Mitrovic is starting to show his worth as a focal point of the attack, it is Wijnaldum who has had the biggest impact.
He now has six goals from midfield after a heroic four-goal haul against Norwich on Sunday.