Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham took advantage of a reduced Premier League schedule due to policing pressures ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral as the top three pulled clear at the top of the table.
City and Arsenal were comfortable 3-0 winners on the road at Wolves and Brentford respectively, while Tottenham’s 6-2 demolition of Leicester left the Foxes still rooted to the foot of the table.
West Ham are also struggling to match the standards they have set in recent seasons as a 1-0 defeat at Everton left the Hammers in the bottom three heading into an international break.
AFP Sports looks at three talking points from the Premier League weekend.
Are Arsenal title contenders?
Brentford boss Thomas Frank was fulsome in his praise for the Gunners as he tipped Mikel Arteta’s men to challenge City for the title.
Arsenal have not been champions of England for 18 years and have failed just to make it into the top four for the past six seasons.
However, the arrivals of Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira along with the return of William Saliba from three loan spells has built on the progress made under Arteta last season.
At a ground where Arsenal crumbled in losing 2-0 on the opening night of the campaign last year, Saliba stood up to the physical presence of Ivan Toney and even grabbed the opening goal.
Jesus and Vieira were then on target with the visitors so comfortable Arteta could even hand a debut to 15-year-old Ethan Nwaneri in the closing stages.
Dethroning a City side now blessed with the firepower of Erling Haaland made prove too big a task over 38 games for Arteta’s men.
The Norwegian took his tally to 14 goals in 10 City games as the champions cruised to victory at Molineux.
But Arsenal’s improvement should have Spurs, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United sweating over the stiff competition to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Son finds his form
Spurs’ early season performances might not have matched their north London rivals, but they will head to the Emirates in two weeks’ time just one point behind after hitting Leicester for six.
Son Heung-min had been dropped to the bench after exhausting Antonio Conte’s patience in a slow start to the season.
But last season’s Premier League Golden Boot winner showed his class is permanent by coming off the bench to score a hat-trick as Tottenham ran riot in the second half against the feckless Foxes to leave Brendan Rodgers clinging to his job.
“The team has been doing really, really good but I was disappointed with my performance,” said Son.
“I’m really glad the ball finally went in! I’m glad I’ve been able to help the team, that is really important and I can go to national duty with renewed energy.”
Forest’s gamble going wrong
Nottingham Forest marked their return to the Premier League by breaking the record for summer signings with 22 new arrivals at the City Ground.
But they are paying the price for a lack of continuity as a 3-2 defeat to Fulham made it four consecutive defeats for Steve Cooper’s men.
Cooper even admitted afterwards that it is hard to foster team spirit with so many new faces.
“I’ve spoken about with the lads. It’s not as if we’re not aware of it and we’ve challenged ourselves – how do we become a team?
“Whether it’s our tactical ideas, whether it’s our togetherness, whether it’s our spirit, whether it’s pushing each other, that comes when you have real trust with each other and trust is built over time.”
Cooper transformed the two-time European champions after taking charge a year ago with the club bottom of the Championship.
Yet, even the feat of leading Forest back to the Premier League may not be good enough for trigger happy owner Evangelos Marinakis if results do not turn quickly.