The international break is over and it was much needed for some teams. With Liverpool still looking for their first win of the season and Tottenham also rolling around near the bottom of the table, the two weeks off gave the managers a chance to review their tactics and make some changes. At the same time, the break offered time for players such as Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero to try and heal up from their injuries suffered in the first few matches of the season. And while some players returned to their clubs less than 48 hours before it was hard to imagine that any team would be in top form coming into the weekend.
Match of the Weekend - Everton v Newcastle
Perhaps it makes sense that "The Keeper" was a little late this week because the best match of the weekend was scheduled for Monday between the Toffees from Everton and the Magpies from Newcastle. Goodison Park has been a tremendous equalizer for Everton over the last several seasons regardless of the opponent and Newcastle was heavily favored in today's match-up.
The home team got on the board very early with when Leighton Baines past an outstretched Steve Harper who was filling in for Tim Krul who was injuried on international duty for the Netherlands. Everton maintained the bulk of the position in the first half, however, Newcastle's manager Alan Pardew made a move to his bench to start the second half that would change the game. The Magpies leading scorer last season, Demba Ba, was rested the first 45 minutes after coming off international duty but his presence was needed and he did not disappoint scoring on his first touch at the 49 minute mark to tie it up. Again Everton maintain position through much of the second half and continued to force their options forward. Second half sub for Everton, Victor Anichebe, appeared to score a header midway through the half, however it was ruled to not have cross the goal by the linesman. However late in the match Anichebe made sure to leave no question when he scored in the 88th minute. As injury time ticked down Newcastle again turned to their star Demba Ba who came through in the final minute of extra time with a cracking goal to earn the draw and a point for each team.
Statistic of the Weekend - 11 hours 11 minutes
I mentioned above how Goodison Park had offered Everton a true home field advantage over the last few seasons. Until Demba Ba scored in the second half of Monday's match, Everton's goalkeeper Tim Howard had not allowed a home goal since March 21st against Arsenal. That's a total of 11 hours and 11 minutes of playing time between goals allowed and that is why Everton can hang with just about anyone when they are playing at home.
Star of the Weekend - Lukas Podolski (Arsenal)
When the Gunners traded away the league leading scorer, Robin Van Persie, over the summer fans must have felt that Arsene Wenger had doomed the team to a mid-table finish. However, when Arsenal was able to sign Lukas Podolski away from Cologne over the summer, fear turned to hope. While the German national picked up just his second goal of the weekend in the Gunners 6-1 thumping of Southampton, Podolski's presence across the pitch has been creating opportunities for himself and his teammates. While he may not win the golden boot this season for the most goals, his efforts this weekend and through the season will likely help Arsenal stay near the top of the table all season.
Did I say that I thought Southampton would be the first newly promoted team to go 0-0-3 and still manage to stay up at the end of the season? Well the Saints are now in dead last, four match, four losses, and it isn't looking good. I won't retract my statement from last week, I believe the Saints have had a very tough first four matches and will pick up their first points of the season next week at home against Aston Villa. Here is a look at the top and bottom of the table after four matches
1. Chelsea - 10 points, +6 GD (3-1-0)
2. Manchester United - 9 points, +5 GD (3-0-1)
3. Arsenal - 8 points, +7 GD (2-2-0)
4. Manchester City - 8 points, + 3GD (2-2-0)
17. Liverpool - 2 points, -5 GD (0-2-2)
18. Queens Park - 2 points, -7 GD (0-2-2)
19. Reading - 1 point, -4 GD (0-1-3)
20. Southampton - 0 points, -9 GD (0-0-4)