Everton vs Norwich City

, 10 January, 0comments  |  Jump to most recent
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Having enjoyed their first week-long break from action since mid-December, Everton are back in Premier League action this weekend with Norwich City the visitors as the Blues look to get back to winning ways following the New Year's Day draw at Stoke.

Roberto Martinez's men breezed into the FA Cup Fourth Round last Saturday with a 4-0 drubbing of Queens Park Rangers in another example of the evolution in style that the Spaniard has effected at Goodison Park that has really taken hold since the last time they faced the Canaries on the opening day.

Everton exhibited many aspects of the possession game that Martinez favours in that game last August but, though they went ahead in the second half, they couldn't hold the lead and ended up drawing 2-2. It was the first of the Blues' eight draws so far this season and turning those single points into three is a priority of the manager's for the second half of the campaign.

They face a team that has failed to live up the promise of manager Chris Hughton's summer spending which suggested that Norwich might be a greater force this term than they have been thus far. The likes of former Everton targert Leroy Fer, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and winger Nathan Redmond suggested that the East Anglians' squad might be strong enough to test the top half of the Premier League but they start this weekend just three points off the relegation zone having won just one of their last seven matches.

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They did manage what Everton could not and that was win at Stoke but they have found goals hard to come by — just 15 in 19 games since the last time these two sides met — and that will hearten Martinez who has been served brilliantly by all of the four central defenders he has had to use so far, most recently Antolin Alcaraz and John Stones.

With Phil Jagielka ruled out and Sylvain Distin to be assessed over the next couple of days, that fledgeling partnership could well be deployed again but the respective performances by two players who hadn't started a Premier League game for the Blues prior to 29th December suggests that Martinez won't lose any sleep should the Frenchman be sidelined again.

Elsewhere in the line-up, Leighton Baines and Ross Barkley are doubts after picking up knocks in the last two matches, the former taking a knock to his recently broken toe and the latter suffering an unspecified minor injury in the FA Cup tie. As the manager expressed earlier the week, Gerard Deuofeu's hamstring strain was complicated by damage to the tendon but he remains on course for a recovery by the end of the month.

Though Martinez has clearly set out his stall to approach every game as a winnable one, home or away, the continuation of Everton's Champions quest starts with making the most of home field advantage. With things so tight in the top eight, every three-point haul is vital and anything less than a win against a Norwich side who will be without the suspended Fer and who are struggling for form would be regarded as a big disappointment.

Kick off: 3pm
Referee: Kevin Friend

Quotes or other material sourced from ToffeeWeb Match Reports

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