Will Ross Barkley feature in Saturday's game? - Alex Livesey
It seems like every game nowadays for Everton is a must-win. This weekend they welcome Norwich City to Goodison Park, looking for an immediate recovery from the debacle last week at Reading. What can we expect on Saturday?
Last week Everton allowed a mediocre Reading side to record their first win of the season. On Saturday, a Norwich City squad that is hardly much better come to Goodison seeking their first away win of the season. Are Everton going to play the obliging hosts, or show some of the ruthlessness in front of goal that they so desperately need? This is the last match Everton play against a side in the bottom half of the table before a run of games against Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham, so this becomes another must-win game for the Blues and David Moyes will no doubt have his side aware of this.
Norwich are in a good run of form, with a five-match unbeaten run. They have traveled decently too, with three draws in their five away games. Manager Chris Hughton has motivated his team better when playing bigger teams, with Premier League wins against Arsenal and Manchester United and a Capital One Cup victory over Tottenham. Wes Hoolahan is their creative force, and big Grant Holt tends to make a menace of himself in the opposing team's box.
Team News -
Marouane Fellaini will be sorely missed this weekend, as he serves his one-game suspension for picking up five yellow cards. Tony Hibbert and Victor Anichebe are still nursing long-term injuries and Phil Neville joins them there after having knee surgery done. Kevin Mirallas missed out last week but is expected to play some part, as is Darron Gibson who played just over an hour for the reserves this week. Prospect Ross Barkley has been recalled from his loan at Sheffield Wednesday and should see some minutes as well.
In defence Moyes has more headaches to contend with, latest rumors have it that Seamus Coleman and Sylvain Distin both picked up knocks in training, so a backline of Leighton Baines - John Heitinga - Shane Duffy - Phil Jagielka is a distinct possibility.
Norwich are relatively healthy, with Russell Martin and Harry Kane the likely players to miss out. Centerback Michael Turner has had an excellent season so far but could face a late fitness test after picking up a knock last weekend while goalkeeper and former Everton player John Ruddy should be fit to play.
Keys To The Game -
Creating chances has come easily to Everton this season, it's the conversion of said chances into goals where the team has struggled. The Leighton Baines - Steven Pienaar combo hasn't dominated a game in a while, while Nikica Jelavic's goal radar has been off lately. Both of these elements need to be corrected promptly for Everton to have any chance of winning.
Norwich have found goals hard to come by, primarily due to Hughton's formation that utilizes two holding midfielders and pretty much everything going forward goes through Hoolahan and Holt. Once again they will focus on giving Everton the midfield, but frustrating them in the final third of the field, and rely on counter attacks for the bulk of their work in the Toffee's half. The Canaries have defended very well, cutting out crosses and clearing the area around their goal, and Everton will have a tough time getting the ball to Jelavic in front of goal.
Match Facts -
- Tomorrow's game marks David Moyes' 200th game at Goodison Park, with 104 wins and 49 draws.
- Everton are unbeaten against Norwich in their last eight fixtures, with five wins and three draws.
- The Toffees have won seven and drawn two of their last nine games at home.
- Norwich City have only one win in their last twelve away games, with seven losses.
- The Canaries have not conceded a league goal in the last 334 minutes.
- Hughton signed an entirely new back four for £4.3 million and has had five clean sheets already.