The third week of the English Premier League schedule is when we finally start to see some separation between the top clubs and the bottom feeders fighting to avoid relegation at the end of the year.
There's still going to be a cluster at the top of the standings, but at least the big picture starts coming into perspective. Of course, just because we are seeing things come into focus doesn't mean it's exactly what we were expecting.
An unpredictable EPL season kicked into high gear with marquee matchups and dominant performances. We've got a look at the latest standings as they come in from Matchday 3 and the players who were on top of their game.
|11||West Ham United||3||1||0||2||4||5||-1||3|
|12||Queens Park Rangers||3||1||0||2||1||5||-4||3|
|18||West Bromwich Albion||3||0||2||1||2||5||-3||2|
|August 30||Burnley FC||0-0||Manchester United|
|August 30||Manchester City||0-1||Stoke City|
|August 30||Queens Park Rangers||1-0||Sunderland|
|August 30||Newcastle||3-3||Crystal Palace|
|August 30||Swansea||3-0||West Bromwich Albion|
|August 30||West Ham||1-3||Southampton|
|August 30||Everton||12:30 p.m.||Chelsea|
|August 31||Aston Villa||8:30 a.m.||Hull|
|August 31||Tottenham||8:30 a.m.||Liverpool|
|August 31||Leicester City||11 a.m.||Arsenal|
|Mame Biram Diouf||Stoke City||1|
|Dwight Gayle||Crystal Palace||1|
|Jason Puncheon||Crystal Palace||1|
|Wilfried Zaha||Crystal Palace||1|
|Charlie Austin||Queens Park Rangers||1|
|Mark Noble||West Ham||1|
|Gabriel Agbonlahor||Aston Villa||1|
|Andreas Weimann||Aston Villa||1|
|Nikica Jelavic||Hull City||1|
|Jose Ulloa||Leicester City||1|
Swansea's early-season roll continues with another impressive victory, its third in as many weeks, this time bludgeoning West Bromwich Albion in a 3-0 contest.
The Swans wasted little time getting on the board, as star striker Nathan Dyer scored in the second minute, which the team celebrated with aplomb, via the EPL's official Twitter:
This is nothing new for Dyer or Swansea, which is getting accustomed to fast starts. According to Stats Football, the striker has now found the net in three of his last four EPL matches:
As impressive as Dyer was on Saturday and has been in the early part of the season, it was his teammate Wayne Routledge's goal in the 24th minute that had everyone buzzing. With Swansea leading 1-0, the 29-year-old found the back of the net on a beautiful strike following a botched attempt from West Brom to clear the ball.
You can see the majestic goal and ball placement on Routledge's kick in all its glory below, via The Score's official Twitter:
Everything is coming up roses right now for Swansea, which looks like a much-improved squad from the one that ended last season as mediocre as possible with an 11-9-18 record and even goal differential.
On the other side of the equation, defending champions Manchester City have to be wondering what just happened after Stoke City pulled off a stunning upset thanks to a Mame Biram Diouf's goal in the 58th minute.
Gary Lineker was heaping praise on Dirouf's effort, which saw him basically go end to end to score the goal, but didn't let Joe Hart off the hook:
Diouf has run almost the entire length of the field to score, giving Stoke the lead at Manchester City. Hart should have saved it.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) August 30, 2014
The loss ends City's seven-match EPL winning streak and drops it behind Swansea in the overall standings. It's the first win in three EPL matches for Stoke City, which has been close to victory following a close loss to Aston Villa in the opener and draw against Hull last week.
Every team is entitled an off day every now and then, City's loss does come soon after manager Manuel Pellegrini made a declarative statement to reporters about none of the club's strikers being guaranteed anything, via Richard Tanner of the Daily Express:
That [leaving them out] is not a problem for me. It's a problem when I don't have players [fit and in form].
We have to choose the best player for each game. We have so many and it's important to have more than one choice. We have Ageuro, Negredo, Jovetic and Dzeko, so it's not a problem.
The most important thing is to keep getting performances from all the players.
It may be the most important thing, but Saturday was certainly not a day that anyone on the club will mark down as their finest moment.
There is plenty of time for Manchester City to get back on track. No one is concerned that the team is going to suddenly fall off the map, especially after winning its first two matches by a combined score of 5-1.
This one slip does open the door for other top contenders to make their move. An already interesting EPL season got another shot of adrenaline in Week 3 thanks to upsets and incredible individual performances.