The Premier League is back after another break and this is where the action hots up.
There’s been plenty of drama so far with more to come, beginning with Liverpool vs Everton on talkSPORT, with a London derby to follow that is sure to alter the lay of the land again.
We’re eight games in and there have been surprise packages, major let downs and brilliant signings. Here, talkSPORT host and former Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor gives his verdict.
Ange Postecoglou led Tottenham to the top of the table before the international break, with their 1-0 win over Luton enough to keep them above Arsenal on goal difference.
It’s fair to say no one really knew how Spurs would fare under their new boss after a disappointing eighth place last term – and that includes Gabby.
When asked who the winners are so far, he said: “It’s got to be Spurs. I was saying on a talkSPORT show, last season we were laughing saying the best thing about Spurs was the Beyonce concerts at the stadium.
“That was me having banter with my co-host Jamie O’Hara, who loves Tottenham. That’s how bad it was at Spurs! Now there’s none of that banter, it’s just ‘Spurs are doing well’. 4-3-3, no more five at the back, James Maddison getting in on the turn, you’ve got [Heung-min] Son back to his best.
“Defensively, [Micky] van de Ven, [Destiny] Udogie, you see a goalkeeper not making mistakes like [Hugo] Lloris, it’s just a better vibe around Spurs now.
So, for me Spurs are definitely the winners so far this season.”
“I’d probably say Brentford.”
When prompted on whether Manchester United have had a more catastrophic start, he continued: “Yeah, United have been poor, but I watched how bad Brentford were against Everton.
“One win, they don’t look the same, they’ve got problems coming with Ivan Toney wanting to leave in January. [Yoane] Wissa and [Bryan] Mbeumo going to the African Cup of Nations, they’ll move out there for a month or six weeks.
“So they’ve got problems going forward. I think the star striker they signed, Kevin Schade, got an injury, so they’ve got problems coming. We say teams are too good to go down, but you never know.
“Brentford need to get their act together.”
All three sides that got promoted from the Championship are close to the Premier League’s relegation zone – Luton, who are just outside in 17th, 18th place Burnley and bottom of the league Sheffield United.
Bournemouth are 19th, with them and the Blades yet to win a single league game so far this season.
Last season, the promoted three stayed up and Gabby has been shocked to see this year’s newbies and Bournemouth do as badly as they have.
“Maybe I’m surprised at how poor they actually are. Burnley are still poor. Yes, they got the win against Luton, but you can’t play that open football in the Premier League.
“It’s okay in the Championship, but you can’t come up and be naive. It’s going to come to that stage in the season where you carry on with the football and go down, or change it, play a bit more defensive some games and maybe stay up.
“I think I’ve been surprised at how poor the promoted teams have been.”
Biggest let down
After a promising transfer window, Man United are tenth in the league and bottom of their Champions League group.
Off field drama between Jadon Sancho and Erik ten Hag, as well as Antony’s allegations of domestic abuse has, in Gabby’s view, summed up their disappointing start to the campaign.
“At the start of the season I was like ‘they’ve signed [Rasmus] Hojlund, you’ve got Casemiro in there, defensive signings, you’ve brought Mason Mount in’.
“You’ve got these new players in the team, but this season they’re playing like strangers. You watch Manchester United play and you think ‘[Marcus] Rashford doesn’t look interested’. They’re having problems with Sancho.
“Even Antony coming back, is he going to help the team as much as he should be? So they’ve got a lot of problems Manchester United.
“At the start of the season I’m sure Man United fans were thinking ‘you know what, let’s get closer to Man City and Arsenal, let’s stay in the top four and do well in the Champions League’. They could lose every game of the Champions League, it would not surprise me.”
“It’s between Maddison and [Liverpool’s Dominik] Szoboszlai. Maddison because he’s just added that different dimension to Spurs.
“You had [Giovani] Lo Celso hanging around, before you had [Bryan] Gil and it was a hard watch. Maybe that’s why the manager had to play five at the back.
“Now you’re watching them and Maddison’s getting on the ball. The assist against Luton in tight places, he can score goals, a great goal against Burnley.
“For the money as well, £40million, I think Leicester going down has done Spurs a favour. I just think the way Maddison is fitting in at Spurs has to be the signing of the summer.”
But when asked about how Spurs are coping with losing all-time top goal scorer Harry Kane to Bayern Munich, he continued: “I’ve got to eat my own words. I said Spurs could finish like eighth or ninth because they lost 30 Premier League goals last season.
“This season they’ve won by tight margins and spread the goals around the team.”
After coming in to replace long term goalkeeper David de Gea, Man United goalkeeper Andre Onana has made headlines this season – but not always for the right reasons.
That hasn’t gone unnoticed by Gabby, but he believes there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Red Devils star.
“Onana is up there [for worst signing]. “It’s because of how he’s started. Mason Mount is up there, he’s not done anything, has he?
“[Kai] Havertz. Havertz is the captain of the flop team so far. But I’m going to have to go Onana.
“He’s been very poor. He’s been very laid back when he receives the ball for me, way too laid back like he’s playing with his friends.
“If you’re going to be that laid back and give away a few passes, at least be a top shot stopper.
“He’s got to save some of those shots that he’s not saving. You look at the game against Brentford, he’s got to save that, you look at the [Leroy] Sane one against Bayern Munich, got to save that.
“He will come good, but so far I’d say he’s the flop of the season.”
talkSPORT kicks off the return of Premier League football with Liverpool vs Everton at 12:30pm on 21 October followed by Newcastle vs Crystal Palace at 3pm on talkSPORT 2
The new talkSPORT match centre
Keep up-to-date with all the latest football fixtures, results and standings in our new match centre.