With the FA Cup taking place last weekend, Everton must shift their attention back to League duties as they host Norwich City at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon. Everton successfully booked their place in the 4th round of the FA Cup with a comfortable 4-0 win over Championship side QPR, however, last time out in the league, they needed a 90th min Leighton Baines penalty to salvage a 1-1 draw away at Stoke. Norwich had a much tougher FA Cup 3rd round clash as they drew 1-1 with Premier League side Fulham. This game is pivotal for both sides, for Everton, they need the 3pts to potentially jump back into the top 4 after the setback against Stoke. Norwich on the other hand are only 3pts above the dreaded relegation zone, and any result will be a big boost for the Canaries.
Summer signing James McCarthy on his debut season thus far for Everton
“I`m loving life here and the fans have been brilliant to me, I always believed I could come here and play games. You need to have a bit of that in you, to be honest, to go and prove you can go and play for a club the size of Everton.
“I knew it wasn`t going to be easy and that it would be tough, and I had to bide my time at first to get into the team. It`s brilliant to be playing.
“At first it was tough because it was a lot of money, to be honest. Obviously the gaffer believed in me though, came back to Wigan for me and paid the money.
“When I came here I wanted to prove that I could play in front of good fans for a massive club. I just need to keep working hard on and off the pitch because there is still a long way to go.”
Everton Team News:
Everton have four injury concerns ahead of the game. Martinez revealed that youngster Ross Barkley picked up a knock to his foot in the win over QPR and is 50-50 for the match, the same goes for Leighton Baines after he missed the QPR match with back spasms. The news is less positive for centre backs Jagielka and Distin as they struggle to overcome hamstring injuries which will see them miss their 3rd consecutive match. Deulofeu is gradually progressing from his hamstring injury and is expected back towards the end of the month. Martinez did say that Gibson, who is out with a long term knee injury, could return in April.
Possible Starting XI: Howard, Oviedo, Stones, Alcaraz, Coleman, Barry, McCarthy, Mirallas, Pienaar, Barkley, Lukaku
Player to watch: Romelu Lukaku
After a heavy schedule over the festive period, was nice to see Lukaku get a little rest for the QPR game, hopefully that will refresh the Belgian because in the last few games he hasn’t looked himself. With Jelavic scoring twice in the win over QPR, Lukaku could finally face some competition over the striker role, and hopefully that will only force Lukaku to up his game. On his day, Lukaku is a scary prospect, he has the physical attributes to give any CB in the world problems and hopefully the Norwich defenders will experience that first hand on Saturday
Norwich Team News:
Norwich manager Chris Houghton confirmed that Wes Hoolahan will be in the match day squad despite heavy speculation linking him with a move to Aston Villa. Hoolahan, as well as Johnson and Bassong will be welcomed back to the squad after being rested for the game against Fulham. Norwich also regain the services of Leroy Fer who was suspended for the game against Fulham. Norwich will be missing Turner, Howson, Tettey, Bennett and Pilkington for the match.
Possible Starting XI: Ruddy, Whittaker, Olsson, Bassong, Martin, Fer, Snodgrass, Johnson, Redmond, Hoolahan, Hooper
Player to watch: Leroy Fer
I am sure all Everton fans will know who Leroy Fer is. It was this time last year, where many Everton fans were celebrating the ‘signing’ of Leroy Fer from FC Twente, however, despite agreeing a fee for the Dutchman and agreeing personal terms, it was a failed medical that stopped the move, and a couple months later Fer signed for Norwich. Fer has adapted well to the Premier League and has been one of Norwich’s better players this season. The Bouncer could be in for a busy 90mins against Everton, and he will play a big part in the final result of the match.
Match Facts & Stats
1. Norwich have been a bogey side for Everton recently, the Toffees are currently 5 games without a win against the Canaries (D4, L1)
2. Everton have scored inside the final 20mins in 9 of their last 12 matches
3. Leighton Baines is the only player in Premier League history to have successfully scored 10+ penalties without missing
4. Everton have ht the target with 50% of their shots this season, only leaders Arsenal (52.3%) have a higher percentage
5. Robert Snodgrass has created 36 chances for his team mates and has yet to record an assist this season.
This match is a must win for Everton as they are at home against a struggling Norwich side, however, Norwich have recently shown against Everton, that they are no pushovers, and given some of the injury concerns, this will be a tough test for Everton, but if they harbour hopes for finishing in the top 4, then they must win this game. Norwich do have some good players in their side, the likes of Fer and Hooper will be a danger to the makeshift Everton defence, however, I just think Everotn will be too strong at home and pick up the 3pts, as for a scoreline, I will say 2-1 with Lukaku scoring twice for Everton and Hooper scoring for Norwich. COYB!! MUST WIN LADS!! LETS GET THESE 3PTS!!!!!