The first international break of the season is traditionally a time to take stock, and there has been an awful lot to take stock of.

We may only be four weeks into the Premier League campaign, but clubs’ seasons - both good and bad - are beginning to take shape, while over in Spain there is a certain Englishman who has taken to La Liga like a duck to water, scoring five goals in his first four appearances for Real Madrid.

So with plenty of stories around and subplots unfolding, we asked our team for their views as the campaign presses pause.

Darren Wells

I’d say the biggest takeaway I’ve got so far this season is that Tottenham are genuine contenders for Champions League qualification, even despite losing Harry Kane.

Ange Postecoglou has been quick to implement his attractive free-flowing passing style and Spurs’ shrewd transfer business has got them to a good place. Kane’s exit is a hammer blow and will always be harshly felt, but the fact Spurs were able to score five at the weekend shows they have quickly moved on and are more than capable of banging in goals without him.

Tottenham have shone in the early weeks of the season (


Getty Images)

You get the sense they’ll be this season’s entertainers, scoring goals at will but also conceding a few in return. They’ll win games they’re not expected to and lose games they shouldn’t, but with Man Utd, Chelsea and Newcastle all faltering in the opening stages, you wouldn’t bet against Spurs sneaking into what could be a top five and returning to Europe’s top table. If it’s at the expense of Mauricio Pochetino’s Chelsea… well, wouldn’t that be something.

John Cross

Jude Bellingham has been the best thing about the first month of the season.

What a start to his career at Real Madrid. Five goals in four games, the last gasp hero AGAIN against Getafe last weekend and, as a 20-year-old, he has gone to the biggest club in the world and looked as if he has played there for his whole life.

We are of course talking about a generational talent. In my view, the best young English talent since Wayne Rooney who has bucked the trend of most homegrown players by backing himself to go abroad - first at Dortmund and now Madrid - and take on the world.

Jude Bellingham already looks at home at Real Madrid Jude Bellingham already looks at home at Real Madrid (



The great thing about Bellingham is his maturity, he speaks so well and is so respectful. It’s no wonder the Real Madrid fans worship him already. Let’s not kid ourselves here. It’s a tough crowd. And he has become a hero already. He is a marauding midfielder with energy, runs, goals and assists.

It’s so fitting that Real Madrid opened their new-look Bernabeu on Saturday following a £500m refurbishment. Bellingham represents the new dawn for Real Madrid. And he also plays for England. He is destined to be the best player in the world.

Andy Dunn

There has been the odd spot of controversy, the odd outburst from angry managers, the odd temper tantrum on the field of play, and the standard quota of play-acting. But the opening weeks of the season have been, almost surprisingly, a joyful start to the club campaign.

In the main, it has been football as it should be … with a smile on its face. And no-one grins wider than James Maddison.

Ange Postecoglu and Maddison are a perfect match, the midfield stylist symbolising the new era at Tottenham. For £45million, the 26-year-old was the steal of the summer and those who did not appreciate his brilliance have surely been won over by his start to the season.

Maddison has confirmed he is an innovator amongst a league heavily stocked with ground-covering automatons. If he stays fit, Maddison will be the star of what could be a very decent, highly-entertaining season for Spurs supporters. There could even be an unlikely title challenge.

Megan Feringa

Is the Premier League really back without a bombastic celebration from Jordan Pickford?

The smirk from the Everton goalkeeper after producing a pair of point-blank final-moment saves to deny Sheffield United’s Oli McBurnie the glory of securing three valuable points on Saturday was a thing of undeniable beauty. The smugness, the impudence, the hint of relief, the subsequent memes inspired.

The celebration was all the more amazing considering it arrived as the Toffees managed to hold onto one extraordinary one point from a possible 12. While it’s still early days, Everton’s third instalment of “it smells like relegation” looks likely to stick this time, having suffered their worst start since 1994-95.

Pickford somehow saved Everton a point against Sheffield United Pickford somehow saved Everton a point against Sheffield United (


Sheffield United FC via Getty Im)

Luck hasn’t been kind. It can be argued Everton were robbed against Fulham, while a tight offside decision went against them versus Wolves. And just how foul does one’s luck have to be for Pickford to manage an own goal like that?

New signing Beto looks capable of changing that luck, with his combination of power and fluidity as a focal point and instigator. But if Everton are to stave off the ignominy of christening their £500million new stadium with a Championship bout, more bombastic Pickford celebrations are a must.

Tom Blow

Call me a dinosaur, but I still can’t believe Chelsea paid £115million to sign a holding midfielder rather than a world-class striker.

The Blues look better than last season, but only just. Their attack lacked potency again on Saturday, as they crumbled to a 1-0 home defeat against relegation candidates Nottingham Forest. Their scattergun transfer policy of signing youngsters who’ve got a good potential rating on FIFA (sorry, EA Sports FC) is still in operation, leaving Mauricio Pochettino with a bunch of players who might turn out to be good but could also be rubbish. Thankfully they’re all on eight-year contracts.

Chelsea have no team, no identity. They’re a bunch of individuals, leaving Pochettino with the difficult task of finding an XI capable of winning (and keeping the rest of the squad happy in the meantime). It’ll probably end with him getting the boot. Maybe Chelsea might finish 10th instead of 12th this season? An improvement, I guess.

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Daniel Orme

After a standout campaign in which they qualified for the Europa League last term, most were expecting Brighton to suffer a little bit of a hangover this time around. Those fears were magnified even more so after losing star players Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister and Robert Sanchez - albeit Brighton having nearly £200m in their pocket.

Someone forgot to mention that to Roberto De Zerbi’s men, however. The Seagulls have been in exhilarating form over the opening few weeks of the season after blowing away Luton and Wolves before putting on a real show by dismantling Newcastle.

Brighton continue to look dangerous Brighton continue to look dangerous (


Jane Stokes/ProSports/REX/Shutterstock)

Japanese wide man Kaoru Mitoma has been a real shining light once more, whilst Evan Ferguson’s hat-trick against the Magpies looks set to be a highlight whatever happens for the remainder of the campaign.

With Manchester United, Chelsea and Newcastle struggling over the opening weeks, Brighton could yet be a threat on the upper echelons of the Premier League once again. The exhaustive demands of European football may yet have an impact once the fixtures get underway but for the time being, supporters can enjoy the ever-entertaining show that Brighton continue to put on at the AMEX Stadium.

Josh O’Brien

Manchester United had, in the minds of many, turned a corner and were all set to improve on last season this time around, with some suggesting even a title tilt could be in the offing.

Instead, United look well below their best with a squad containing a number of players that aren’t good enough. Off-field drama has plagued a lot of Erik ten Hag’s reign as Red Devils boss so far, especially with the Cristiano Ronaldo saga last season, the Dutchman cannot afford to have another battle with Jadon Sancho.

Manchester United have started slowly Manchester United have started slowly (


AFP via Getty Images)

While falling out with Sancho is unlikely to place Ten Hag’s position under any threat, another feud will do little to help harmony inside the Old Trafford dressing room. Even though the England ace has struggled since his mega-money move to Manchester in 2021, those in front of him aren’t exactly pulling up any trees and it is a bad look to single out Sancho for public criticism like the United boss has.

Ten Hag has a job on his hands to turn the tide on United’s slow start to the season, a start that has seen them lose two of their opening four league games.

Tom Victor

If we’ve learned one thing in this opening month, it’s that Manchester City aren’t likely to take their foot off the gas despite their treble success.

The comedown after glory in Istanbul, coupled with the loss of Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez, might have brought about a slow start. An injury to Kevin De Bruyne could have accentuated that, as could the operation which has kept manager Pep Guardiola out of the picture for two of City’s four Premier League games.

So much for that. The reigning champions are the only Premier League team with a 100 per cent record, and this is a team which has tended to be stronger in the second half of seasons than the first.

Yes, the fixture list has been friendly, and the biggest tests will come after the international break. Even so, it’s looking very scary for anyone looking to stop their dominance.

David Maddock

It was a month with one big surprise, and one eminently predictable outcome.

The surprise was Liverpool. They have an entirely new midfield who had never played together before, and yet hit the ground running with tremendous style. Dominik Szoboszlai oozes class and looks as though he could develop into the next great Premier League star, while Alexis Mac Allister has shown an incredible appetite and attitude. So positives for Jurgen Klopp, and you can see them challenging once more in the Premier League - if not this season then next - and winning the Europa League.

Dominik Szoboszlai looks a superb signing for Liverpool Dominik Szoboszlai looks a superb signing for Liverpool (


Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

The not so surprising? Manchester City of course. We wondered if losing some of their most experienced players (AND Kevin de Bruyne through injury) would disrupt them. Not a bit of it. Their recruitment is impeccable, their signings so impressive in how they fit perfectly into Pep’s system. No surprise at all then, if they win the league yet again.

Alex Richards

Ange Postecoglou… what a breath of fresh air he has been in the Premier League and to Tottenham. He did a great job at Celtic and he’s made an immediate impact at Spurs, taking on a difficult situation, rolling with it and turning a club where there was a lot of negative energy over the summer right around.

There’s no bulls*** with him, he doesn’t seek to hide behind other issues or incidents, he simply tells it like it is. That’s whether it’s talking about Kane’s exit, substituting Cristian Romero at Brentford, or speaking about the game itself. At a time when other coaches are trying obscure things in interviews or make their tactics sound so complicated that you’d need a PHD to understand them, it’s genuinely refreshing.

Ange Postecoglou has started brilliantly at Tottenham Ange Postecoglou has started brilliantly at Tottenham (


Getty Images)

His outlook, wanting to play attacking football because it’s what fans want to see - he points out he plays the game how he thinks his dad would want it to be played - is wonderful too, at a time when we see so many teams playing not to lose.

From the outside looking in, he’s someone that you want to see do well. He’s got Spurs flying early on and it seems like a much happier camp than under his predecessors. Long may it continue.

Felix Keith

This is not an eye-opening perspective-altering observation, but the gap between the Premier League and the Championship appears to be getting bigger.

Every season unimaginative cynics like me predict the three promoted teams to go straight back down – and the early evidence suggests that could well happen. So far, Burnley, Sheffield United and Luton have a combined record which reads: played 10, won 0, drawn 1, lost 9. They have scored nine goals between them and conceded 27.

Vincent Kompany has opted to stay true to what got Burnley promoted, namely easy on the eye, play out from the back and press with reckless abandon ball. It is yet to click – they look extremely vulnerable in transition and are leaving themselves open to accusations of naivety.

Luton always faced a near vertical uphill climb and the Blades have lost three games by a single goal, but there already a grim sense of near inevitability about their respective struggles.

Everyone wants a hugely competitive, unpredictable rollercoaster of a season. So here’s hoping the newly-promoted sides can summon some strength, bag some results and prevent a yawning gap developing at the bottom.

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Mark Jones

Before a ball was kicked I had a feeling that Manchester United and Newcastle United were both going to struggle to hold onto their places in the top four - albeit the fact that it is very likely to be a top five this season.

The reasoning was that they were going to find it tough to marry the physical demands of Champions League football with a Premier League programme, so my biggest takeaway is that they’re struggling before the Champions League has even kicked off.

Newcastle have lost their last three games Newcastle have lost their last three games (


Iain Buist/Newcastle Chronicle)

Yes they’ve both had difficult starts to the season, but when you expect to be up there that only means that you have chances to beat the sides you’d expect to be around you, but they haven’t done that.

The Manchester variety of United were second best at Tottenham and Arsenal, just as the Newcastle one were at Brighton and in a very limp, unambitious display at Man City, while the less said about their defeat at home to a 10-man Liverpool the better. Both need to seriously improve before the European action begins.