Date: 16th August 2013 at 9:35am
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Another summer has gone by and although it was nice, the weekends just aren’t the same without footy, so it is great to have it back. For Everton, it wasn’t a typical summer, normally a club built on stability for the past 10yrs underwent some pretty major changes including welcoming Roberto Martinez as new Everton manager, as well as his back room staff and for once we have conducted business early in the transfer window and have signed 4 players. The Martinez era for Everton begins with a tough trip to Carrow Road to take on a Norwich side who enjoyed some success against Everton last season. Everton have enjoyed a relatively successful preseason with some good performances against the likes of Juventus and Real Madrid, although it is safe to say that we are still acclimatising to Martinez’s system. As for Norwich, they have had a bit of money to spend, and on paper have done well buying the likes of Van Wolfswinkel, Fer (who Everton fans will know), Redmond and others. Both sides will be desperate for the 3pts to really give their sides a good start to the campaign.

Vital Quotes:

New Everton manager Roberto Martinez on his sides preseason

‘I’ve been most pleased with the quality we have got in the dressing room and the attitude of the players to try to understand different concepts, different ways of doing things and to be flexible in that respect has been very pleasing. Remember, that experience we have and talent we have in the dressing room allows us to work on those principles quite quickly. The surprising aspect for me is how quickly we have been able to work in different aspects of the game and that will make us all-rounded and make us very flexible in the next 10 months of competition.

Norwich manager Chris Hughton on his sides dealings in the transfer window

‘We are trying to make sure we have a squad that is as strong as possible so we keep working and if that sees another player added to the squad then great,’ said Hughton. ‘If not, then I am delighted with what we have got.’

Norwich Team News:

Norwich have some fitness issues after preseason, new signing Gary Hooper is struggling in the race to become fit for the match after sustaining an ankle injury in last weekends friendly against Panathinaikos. Anthony Pilkington, Sebastian Bassong and Luciano Becchio are also expected to miss the match through injury. New signing Leroy Fer, who of course was a medical away from joining Everton in January, is suspended for the match.

Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Ruddy, Martin, Turner, Bennett, Olsson, Howson, Johnson, Snodgrass, Hoolahan, Redmond, Van Wolfswinkel

Player to watch: Ricky Van Wolfswinkel

Norwich pulled off a massive coup by signing the 24yr old Dutch striker from Sporting Lisbon in March. The highly rated Van Wolfswinkel earned many plaudits with his performances in Portugal for Sporting and that was the reason why Norwich spent 9mil on him. Norwich fans will be hoping Van Wolfswinkel can carry his prolific goalscoring over to the Premier League and fire them up to potentially a top half finish. Hopefully for the Everton defenders, the striker will take some time to adapt to the league and struggles in his debut.

Everton Team News:

The main concern for Everton is the fitness of midfielder Darron Gibson, Martinez gave him a 50-50 chance to face Norwich after he injured his knee in the sides last friendly against Real Betis. New signing Antolin Alcaraz is also set to miss the clash with a hernia problem. Magaye Gueye and Tony Hibbert are also expected to miss the match after sustaining knocks in the preseason. Martinez does have a few choices to make, up front he has the choice out of Jelavic, Kone and Anichebe, and also behind the striker between Naismith and Barkley. Barcelona loanee Gerard Deulofeu could make his Everton debut coming off the bench.

Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Howard, Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman, Fellaini, Osman, Pienaar, Mirallas, Naismith, Jelavic

Player to watch: Kevin Mirallas

With his teammates Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini stealing the headlines, Mirallas is really under rated outside of Everton. His debut season was marred by persistent hamstring injuries, but when he regained fitness towards the end of the season he began showing his true quality and began scoring some vital goals. The Belgian has carried that form into the preseason and is set to have a massive season for Everton and hopefully that begins against Norwich.

Match Facts & Stats

1. Both teams are relatively slow starters. For Everton, they have lost 7 of their last 10 opening day fixtures, however last season, they did manage to beat eventual league champions Manchester United 1-0. Norwich’s record is even worse, they have not won an opening day fixture in the last 10 seasons, their last opening day victory came back in 2002 against Grimsby.

2. Everton have struggled at Carrow Road, they have only won once in their last 6 visits. That includes last season where Norwich scored twice in the last 6mins to win 2-1

3. To highlight the importance of Man United target Leighton Baines, the left back created 116 goalscoring opportunities last season, the most in the league last season

4. Leighton Baines is also the only player in Premier League history to have taken 10+ penalties and score each one

5. Norwich scored 32% of their goals from headers last season, the highest total in the league.

Match Prediction:

It will certainly be weird seeing the Everton side after becoming so accustomed to Moyes, however, many Everton fans are excited to see how the team fares and the style of football we play, which in the preseason, has been really good, especially against Madrid and Juve. However, saying that, it is clear that this side still needs time under Martinez to adapt to the system, and the first few games of the season could be difficult. Everton have struggled against Norwich, especially at Carrow Road, and with the recruits they have made this summer, they will provide a very tough first task for Martinez and Everton. However, they could potentially be missing some key players in the form of Hooper, Bassong and Fer, and hopefully Everton can take advantage of that. Saying that, I am going to sit on the fence, and say a 1-1 draw, with Jelavic and Van Wolfswinkel grabbing the goals. COYB!!! ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ OH WE’RE EVERTON FC, ROBERTO’S BLUE ARMY!!!!!