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Five things we learned from today's Premier League matches

The honeymoon period is over for Michael Laudrup while Fulham, Everton and West Brom are all riding high in the table.

Duff and Berbatov helped Fulham see off Wigan today.
Duff and Berbatov helped Fulham see off Wigan today.
Image: Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Everton, West Brom and Fulham all flying high

THERE ARE ALWAYS a couple of surprises among the top-placed teams in the table during the opening months and the new campaign has been no different.

Sure, we’re only halfway through Gameweek 5 and Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal (loitering just outside the top 4) are all scheduled to play tomorrow, but it is refreshing to see West Brom, Fulham and Everton right up there even at this early stage.

Having lost Roy Hodgson to the English national job, the Baggies took a punt on highly-regarded No.2 Steve Clarke and have been awarded for their courage with three wins, one draw and a defeat so far. Though it may not spell good news for Ireland’s Shane Long, who started on the bench but was introduced after 65 minutes today, the short term arrival of Romelu Lukaku has turned out to be a shrewd move. The Belgian striker has made a big impact and scored the winner against Reading this afternoon.

Fulham lost big players in Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele to Spurs before the transfer window shut last month but Martin Jol undoubtedly has a knack for getting the best out of what he’s got at his disposal and new front pairing of Dimitar Berbatov and Hugo Rodellaga could form an excellent partnership if their showing at the DW Stadium is anything go by.

David Moyes has worked miracles at Everton for years after another win today, the Toffees trail the top spot by just three points. As he showed against Manchester United on the opening day, Marouane Fellaini is a defender’s nightmare while new addition Kevin Mirallas and the returning Steven Pienaar were influential at the Liberty Stadium. At 24, Victor Anichebe obviously feels it’s time to finally nail down a regular spot and got on the scoresheet for the second consecutive match.

Honeymoon period over for Laudrup

Legendary Dane Michael Laudrup couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season – the new Swansea manager witnessed his free-flowing side put five unanswered goals past QPR at Loftus Road before a 3-0 home win over West Ham.

After being stripped of their manager Brendan Rodgers and influential players Joe Allen, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Scott Sinclair, many expected the Welsh side to suffer but early signs had suggested they had nothing to worry about with new arrival Michu becoming an instant favourite.

However, a decent draw with Sunderland has been followed by two straight defeats, the latest of which was a comprehension 3-0 loss at the hands of Everton. Even before substitute Nathan Dyer was sent off shortly after being introduced in the second half, the Swans were outplayed by what is admittedly accomplished and in-form Toffees side.

Recent acquisitions Ki Sung-Yeung and Pablo Hernandez will need time to settle in but it is at the back (captain Ashley Williams has looked shaky in recent weeks) where they had major problems as Everton were allowed a massive 30 shots.

Granted, it’s an old cliche but after raising expectations in his opening weeks in charge, the honeymoon period is over for the former Getafe boss. Next up for Swansea? Stoke at the Britannia next Saturday.

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Nathan Dyer leaves the field after receiving a second yellow card. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Chelsea leave it late

In the end, they secured the three points… but only just. Chelsea huffed and puffed at home to Stoke City and eventually found a winner from an unlikely source in Ashley Cole with five minutes on the clock, but the Potters did match them for large spells.

Indeed, Jon Walters could have put the visitors ahead when he met Glenn Whelan’s free-kick with a header but cracked the crossbar with his effort in the first half. With Frank Lampard accompanying John Terry on the bench, Robert Di Matteo opted for an abundance of creativity by fielding Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar as a trio behind Fernando Torres.

They did open Stoke up but found Torres lacking confidence and Asmir Begovic unwilling to concede. Hazard didn’t stand out like he has in previous fixtures and was taken off for Victor Moses, who did inject some urgency upon his introduction. Tony Pulis’ disciplined side were eventually undone by Mata’s instinctive flick and the adventurous run of Cole.

They may be top but the Pensioners are still some way from being the finished article and it will be interesting to see how they fare against Arsenal next weekend.

Saints are up and running

Southampton’s return to the top flight read four games played, four defeats going into their meeting with Aston Villa and the signs weren’t looking good when Darrent Bent put the midlanders in front. Little did Saints fans know, it would turn out to be a day to remember as they romped home with a 4-1 win.

Their main man Rickie Lambert bagged himself two with Nathaniel Clyne adding another, after receiving a pass from record signing Gaston Ramirez, and Ciaran Clark scoring an own-goal.

There has been premature talk that Nigel Adkins is his way out of the club but hopefully this win can kick-start their season.

Hammers can count on Nolan

Just when it seemed West Ham were resigned to defeat at home to Sunderland, ‘Captain Fantastic’ Kevin Nolan pops up deep in injury time to rescue a point for the newly-promoted club. It was the reliable midfielder’s third Premier League goal of the season which moved them above Swansea into eighth place.

Another player whose name has figured regularly on the scoresheet this term is Steven Fletcher. Some scoffed at the amount of money the Black Cats stumped up for the Scottish international, but he made it four goals from as many games after nine minutes at Upton Park. Incredibly, when that goal went in, he had a 100% success rate – scoring all four of his shots as a Mackems player.

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Ben Blake

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