As we head into the first international break of the season, three sides are already threatening to break away at the top of the Premier League in this most intense of campaigns.
New coaches Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte are all determined not to concede the merest inch at the beginning of this season, as Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea lead the way at the top of the table with three victories in their opening three games.
Here is how these teams have flown out of the traps and the challenges awaiting them around the corner…

MANCHESTER CITY
What’s happened so far?
Pep Guardiola’s side have started rapidly, securing Champions League qualification and ending August top of the Premier League – if only by virtue of a single goal.
Still, knowing the fiercely competitive individuals that Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte are, that goal difference will bristle, even at this early stage.
City have managed all this without summer signings Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan, who will add much to the squad when they return from injury.
They have also achieved it all without Joe Hart, as the England goalkeeper is ditched due to his failure to adapt to Guardiola’s tactical demands.
Who has been the standout performer?
After a summer of mediocrity at the European Championship, where it appeared for all the world that this young talent had lost his way, Raheem Sterling has been reborn under Guardiola.
The Catalan made contact with the Englishman during the Euros, reassuring Sterling that he would be a major part of City’s future and Guardiola has been repaid by the kind of performances that remind us all why the club were prepared to pay £50m to Liverpool in the first place.
Sergio Aguero’s been handy, too – just the six goals in four games for the Argentine.
What has been the impact of the new boss?
Guardiola is the first City boss to win his first five games as the club’s manager.
Admittedly, two matches against Steaua Bucharest and league games against Sunderland, Stoke and West Ham are not the most challenging of assignments but it’s been a triumphant start to life in England for the Catalan coach.
It is also worth remembering that City, under Manuel Pellegrini, lost the equivalent fixtures against Stoke and West Ham last season.
So this can be deemed a pleasing start to life, particularly as City have at times demonstrated all the traits of a Guardiola team, moving the ball fluently, pressing fast and furiously when they lose it – and most crucially – winning.
The new coach will, however, need new goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to settle in quickly if the Hart saga is not to become a season-long soap opera.
What do the next three games look like?
Next up is the ultimate acid test for any Manchester City team – a trip to Old Trafford. Guardiola will likely have to make do without Sergio Aguero, who may be banned by the FA for an elbow on Winston Reid during the victory over West Ham United on Sunday.
Without Aguero, City may find life more difficult and it would certainly be a significant ask of young forward Kelechi Iheanacho to fill the breach for Guardiola’s first clash against Mourinho in Manchester.
Things should ease up for City after the United match, as they host Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth and then visit Swansea.

CHELSEA
What’s happened so far?
New coach Antonio Conte has kept his best players at the club, persuading Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic to guide Chelsea back into the Champions League, while he appears to have added smartly with Michy Batshuayi and N’Golo Kante.
Conte’s side have not always been dazzling but late goals against West Ham and Watford demonstrated that Chelsea’s nerve and steel has returned after the pain of last season.
It took Chelsea until February to win three consecutive Premier League matches, so Conte’s start should not be underestimated.
Who has been the standout performer?
Scowling, snarling, scoring – Diego Costa has been back to his best in the opening weeks, firing late winning goals to ensure maximum points against West Ham and Watford.
Eden Hazard has hinted that his finest form may yet return, with a particularly dazzling show against Burnley last weekend.
What has been the impact of the new boss?
Conte is charismatic, passionate and intensely driven. He has returned the fire to this Chelsea squad with only one Premier League game a week – and no European commitments – Conte’s side will be a serious force to be reckoned with as this campaign evolves.
It appears they will be extremely difficult to beat and Conte’s high emphasis on fitness will see Chelsea players go all the way in games.
What do the next three games look like?
After a hospitable start, things now become more tricky. A visit to Swansea is next before a home match against Liverpool and then a visit to Arsenal.
Leicester and Manchester United also follow in October and we are certain to learn much more about Conte’s evolving side over the coming six weeks.

MANCHESTER UNITED
What’s happened so far?
Jose Mourinho bought clinically in the transfer market, strengthening the spine of the United team with the signings of Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
New signings have settled quickly and there has been a new lease of life for players who were uninspiring under Louis van Gaal, with Antonio Valencia, Marouane Fellaini and Daley Blind particularly impressing as United won their opening three league games and the Community Shield.
Who has been the standout performer?
Eric Bailly has been a rock in defence. He is physically at ease in the Premier League and technically appears flawless.
At only 22, the Ivorian may make some errors along the way, but at long last it would appear United have a player with the potential to replace Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic back there.
What has been the impact of the new boss?
Clinical in the transfer market and clinical on the pitch. Mourinho’s new players were craving his appointment for the last few months of last season and he’s arrived, they feel liberated from the tedium of Van Gaal.
Mourinho has ripped up the Van Gaal blueprint and he is operating far more by a very simple mantra: to let talented international football players go out there and get on with it.
He has also privately told the players that he believes they can and should win the Premier League.
What do the next three games look like?
Mourinho will be desperate to draw first blood when his side welcome Guardiola’s City in two weeks time.
After that, it’s Watford away and champions Leicester at Old Trafford.
Mourinho will want maximum points as visits to Liverpool and Chelsea await in October.


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