“Don’t look at the league table until November” has been the sage advice of many a manager down the years, which means we can now take a peep at the standings.
What we find is a rampant Liverpool at the top, followed by an increasingly impressive Chelsea ahead of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, who were regarded as warm favourites by most judges.
So how has it been so far for your club? Here are my thoughts as the league starts to settle down.
Arsenal: It would be easy to predict another New Year meltdown, but Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil look to have the eye of the tiger in pursuit of the big prize this time. They are capable of staying the course.
Bournemouth: Eddie Howe gives this team a “band of brothers” feel and there’s enough quality in the squad to stay clear of trouble.
Burnley: It looks like Sean Dyche knows more about what it takes to survive this time and his tightly organised team — inspired by goalkeeper Tom Heaton — have beaten Liverpool and Everton and drawn at Man United. There’s a good chance that Burnley survive.
Chelsea: The September switch to a 3-4-3 system after defeat at Arsenal has produced five straight league wins by a combined 16-0 score line. Antonio Conte has the Stamford Bridge side purring and they currently look the best-balanced and most complete team.
Crystal Palace: Their wretched 2016 form leaves a big question hanging over the future of manager Alan Pardew.
Everton: Their form has dipped after a bright start and their limitations were brutally exposed at Chelsea. A top eight finish is possible.
Hull City: A long, hard winter lies ahead for Mike Phelan’s side.
Leicester: Last season’s surprise champions are only two points above the drop zone, which contrasts their stellar efforts in Europe. And what has happened to Jamie Vardy, without a league goal for two months.
Liverpool: The leaders have been irresistibly exciting in attack, but less so in defence. They need to buy a quality central-defensive partner for Joel Matip to strengthen their title challenge.
Man City: Pep Guardiola has them playing some sumptuous football, but the feeling persists that the defence is too prone to error. They’re still in transition and, though they will outclass most teams, there will still be the odd slip as they adapt to their manager’s demands.
Man United: While they are still trying to find the right mix and starting XI, it is entirely possible that Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba will soon find top gear. The sullen Jose Mourinho’s criticism of players and brushes with authority don’t help, though.
Middlesbrough: Draws at Arsenal and Man City will lift their confidence. The recent introduction of the jet-heeled Adama Traore gives them a new dimension and Ben Gibson is a fine young defender.
Southampton: Manager Claude Puel has settled quickly and playing Nathan Redmond through the centre was a master stroke. The Saints look a top-half team,
Stoke: They are recovering from their usual shocking start and could do well if Wilfried Bony finds his scoring boots.
Sunderland: They simply do not look good enough all over the pitch, with the honourable exception of Jermain Defoe.
Swansea: Bob Bradley faces a huge task to revive a team badly missing the leadership of Ashley Williams. The new manager needs to instill some grit and get Fernando Llorente scoring. It won’t be easy.
Tottenham: They’re the league’s only remaining unbeaten team and were terrific when beating Man City, but they have not found last season’s rhythm and scoring is an issue. They have netted just 15 goals in 11 games.
Watford: They were above Man United until last week’s 6-1 thrashing at Anfield. Watford’s average age is nearly 30 and the goals have dried up for Odion Ighalo but they should have enough to stay up.
West Brom: They will finish well clear of trouble so long as Tony Pulis stays in charge.
West Ham: It’s been a nightmare start to life in their new stadium and they didn’t spend well enough in the summer. But they should climb clear of their current 17th position.
Ian Darke, who called games for the network during the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, is ESPN’s lead soccer voice in the U.S. Reach him on Twitter @IanDarke.