It has been another fantastic week for Everton and Roberto Martinez. On the back of the fabulous 4-0 win over QPR in the FA Cup, Everton have continued to add to the feel good factor that is sweeping through the club with some brilliant fan initiatives. The Everton Tea Party was a superb idea and the clubs wonderful Director of Communications Alan Myers deserves all the praise that is coming his way for putting on such a tremendous event. I am sure I will be one of many, eager for an invite the next time the club put on such an event. But it didn’t end there, also this week we had Roberto Martinez giving up an hour and a half of his time to be interviewed by a group of Evertonians, the positivity that oozes out of his every word has lifted aspirations within the club, with expectations now higher than at any point since the 1980s. Never have the supporters felt so close to the football club and with a return to the school of science mentality on the pitch, it is truly a wonderful time to be an Evertonian.
Saturday sees a return to Premier League action, with the focus over the next two weeks to increase the pressure on the four teams above Everton in the league. Norwich City are the visitors to Goodison Park in what promises to be an open, free-flowing game of football, with both teams preferring to play football the right way.
Everton’s record over the Canaries since the Yellow and Greens returned to the Premier League three season’s ago is poor. Without a victory in five matches, the Blues have struggled to win matches against Norwich despite dominating the majority of games between the two sides. Last season the Blues were denied a home victory in the last minutes, when Sebastian Bassong scored an injury time equaliser after Everton had failed to kill off a game they should have won comfortably. It was a similar story on the opening day of this season, with the sides drawing 2-2.. The Blues provided a glimpse of the Martinez era, controlling the possession but on this occasion failing to convert their chances which let Norwich in to claim a point. Indeed Everton slipped behind to a Steven Whittaker goal, before Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman struck to put the Toffees 2-1 ahead. It wasn’t to be Everton’s day however, and Ricky van Wolfswinkel struck to ensure the game ended all square.
Overall it has been a disappointing season for Norwich. After spending much of last season on the fringes of the relegation battle the club invested heavily in new talent. Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Gary Hooper, Nathan Redmund and Leroy Fer looked excellent additions to the Norwich squad, but a mixture of injury and loss of form means only Leroy Fer has made a genuine impact. In fairness to Hooper, who had a slow start to life in the Premier League, he has found his feet in recent weeks and has scored some spectacular and crucial goals.
Chris Hughton’s men are without a win in their last five Premier League matches, drawing their last match with Crystal Palace after back to back defeats against Fulham and Manchester United. Fulham were again the opponents in the FA Cup last Saturday, but despite home advantage, Norwich were unable to progress, with the two sides settling for a replay after a 1-1 draw.
Roberto Martinez is again expected to make a number of his changes to his starting eleven. The Everton manager made five changes to his team last week and with Ross Barkley struggling for fitness that number could be increased for Saturday’s match.
Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin are both still troubled with hamstring injuries, as is Gerard Deulofeu, with none of the trio expected to return at the weekend. Leighton Baines has a good chance of reclaiming his place after his stiff back eased during the week, although Bryan Oviedo can consider himself unlucky to lose his place in the team.
Nikica Jelavic reminded every one of his goalscoring prowess last week, but he is likely to make way for Romelu Lukaku. The Belgium centre forward was rested for the visit of QPR but will be back in the side, looking to add to the nine league goals he has already scored this season.
Possible Starting Team: Howard; Baines, Coleman, Alcaraz, Stones; Barry, McCarthy, Osman; Pienaar, Mirallas; Lukaku.
Everton have lost just one of their last 10 league matches, winning 5 and drawing 4.
Norwich have won only 3 of their last 10 league matches, losing 4 and drawing 3.
Romelu Lukaku is Everton’s top scorer with 9 league goals, second on the list is Seamus Coleman who has scored 5 times in the league.
Robert Snodgrass is Norwich’s top scorer with 5 league goals, second on the list is Anthony Pilkington who has scored 5 times in the league.
In the reverse fixture the sides drew 2-2 at Carrow Road. Steven Whittaker and Ricky van Wolfswinkel scored for Norwich, Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman were on target for the Blues.
Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992 the teams have met 8 times at Goodison Park. Everton have won 4, lost 2 and drew 2 of those 8 matches.
In last season’s corresponding fixture at Goodison Park the sides drew 1-1, with Bassong equalising a Steven Naismith goal for Everton.
Our archive footage comes from December 1986 and a Division One meeting between Everton and Norwich City at Goodison Park. The Blues recorded a resounding 4-0 victory, which including a wonderful team goal from Adrian Heath. Paul Power, Trevor Steven and Neil Pointon scored the other 3 goals.