Match Report It would be nice to say that an Everton defeat to a Norwich City side that has comfortably been among the worst in the top flight all season, who came into this match on a six-match losing streak, and who hadn’t scored a Premier League goal for seven weeks was unthinkable but it really wasn’t.Indeed, any Blue would have been well aware that there is no better team to face than when you’ve not won for ages and can’t score for, well, toffee than this Everton one and Rafael Benitez’s side were all too obliging, handing the Canaries their first league win since Dean Smith’s first match in charge in mid-November.It was a result that will, if there is any sanity in the corridors — or should that read gangways? — of power at Everton result in the overdue sacking of Benitez whose hapless management of this club has put it firmly on course for a potentially disastrous battle against relegation, a fate from which it might take years to recover.Benitez has largely proven incapable of producing results at Everton since the last time they met Norwich in September and beat them in comfortable, if rather unconvincing, fashion at Goodison Park. Since then the Spaniard has overseen just one victory in the Premier League, that essentially inspired and secured by the individual brilliance of Demarai Gray and Richarlison as they turned the match against Arsenal on its head a month ago.Rather than a springboard, that adrenaline-fuelled, crowd-backed triumph over Mikel Arteta’s vastly-improved Gunners proved to be an aberration in what has become a miserable sequence of nine defeats in 12 games under Benitez; games blighted by mystifying team selections and formations even allowing for absences from injury and positive Covid-19 tests.Today was no exception, although the manager did at least dispense with his bizarre five-man defence, overly staffed by full-backs, and opted for what looked, on paper, to be 4-4-2. It ended up, however, with Salomon Rondon — a player who wouldn’t be near the starting XI were it not for Benitez’s counter-productive mix of ego, stubbornness, favouritism and blind faith — operating almost as an awkward and baffling number 10 behind Calvert-Lewin.Calvert-Lewin himself had been a welcome returnee to the team after sitting out the narrow win at Hull City in the FA Cup last weekend but there were long stretches of this contest where it was easy to forget he was playing, such was Everton’s impotence as an attacking force.Indeed, apart from some early probing forays by Demarai Gray and the occasional threat posed by Anthony Gordon, Everton didn’t really pose much danger to Norwich’s goal until Richarlison came on as a second-half substitute to score a spectacular goal that will, sadly, be destined to be forgotten given the result.Benitez was criticised in the aftermath of his latest damaging defeat for leaving the Brazilian and Yerry Mina on the bench until the 54th minute but given that both players had only trained this past week for the first time since recovering from their respective injuries and that the Colombian broke down the last time he was rushed back short of full fitness, it was a commendable decision.More worrying was how long he left it to make any kind of change to the formation or approach after Norwich went 2-0 ahead.Allan’s absence in midfield through illness combined with that of the injured Tom Davies complicated any impulse Benitez might have had to deploy three in midfield — Jean-Philippe Gbamin was named in the squad but was an unused substitute — but the manager had enough talent at his disposal to beat a team that has been so poor to this point this season.Credit should go to Norwich for a spirited performance where they capitalised on Everton’s mistakes and defended doggedly to prevent the Toffees from salvaging a draw in the closing stages but the story was all about Benitez and his team’s incomprehensibly bad form.Smith had managed to gee up his struggling charges for this one and they matched Everton in the early going, Pierre Lees-Melou seeing a shot from distance saved by Jordan Pickford and Tim Krul needing to be alert to swallow a low drive from Gray that was searching out the near post.Parity was broken in the 16th minute, though, when Josh Sargent's cross came in from the Canaries' right and Keane stuck out a leg that diverted the ball past Pickford to give the hosts the lead.They were two goals to the good almost immediately. Everton were trying to attack at one end when Seamus Coleman sold Gordon short with an attempted pass that was intercepted by Brandon Williams who strode forward and calmly threaded the ball to Idah to fire past Pickford.It almost got worse for Everton after Coleman was dispossessed again and Teemu Pukki was played into acres of space in the Blues' half but Pickford raced 15 yards outside his box to play “sweeper keeper” and close the Finn down.A weak Rondon volley that was comfortably gathered and an uncertain moment when Krul blocked a low corner behind via Ben Gibson were as close as Everton came to worrying their hosts' defence in what was a desperately impotent showing.The visitors kept the self-destruct button at hand early in the second half when Vitalii Mykolenko almost gifted Norwich their third goal with a blind back-pass straight to Idah but, again, Pickford snuffed out the danger before Benitez finally made moves to change his approach with his two substitutions.And it took the Brazilian just six minutes to make his mark. A corner from the Blues' right was initially cleared but Everton kept the ball and when Krul failed to get proper purchase on a punch from Mykolenko's deep cross, it sat up invitingly for Richarlison to overhead-kick it cleanly into the top corner from near the penalty spot.What should have been the catalyst for an all-out assault on the Norwich goal failed to spark much more attacking penetration from the Toffees, however, as Norwich defended in numbers and dealt with the slow-tempo play in front of them.Mina's header off a deep free-kick bounced awkwardly off Gibson but Calvert-Lewin wasn't able to pounce on the loose ball before Krul smothered it and Ben Godfrey dug out a cross from the byline but Gordon's shot from close range was charged down by a lunging block.Krul then saved a crisp shot from Godfrey but there was precious little from Everton in the closing stages and it was Norwich who almost completed the Merseysiders' humiliation at the end of seven minutes of stoppage time when Milo Rashica rolled a shot off the post as he had raced away with just one blue jersey in pursuit. As ever, Benitez deflected all the criticism for this latest defeat onto the shoulders of the players, blaming them for making mistakes while commending them somewhat for a more purposeful second-half display. It’s true that he couldn’t really legislate for Keane’s clumsy own goal or the sloppy distribution that led to Norwich’s second but when you’ve lost eight of the 11 previous games, you don’t afford yourself any leeway in dropping points due to individual errors.In any case, his players had more than enough time to claw things back and at least earn a point but they look utterly lost under a manager who seems clueless as to how to get the best out of them of set them up to win matches in the Premier League.Benitez’s time at Everton has been up for a while now; that Farhad Moshiri has waited this long to end this farce has merely sacrificed precious points and prolonged the fans’ frustration. The former Liverpool boss surely cannot survive this – frankly, it would be a surprise if he lasted the weekend – but if he somehow does, there is a very real danger he will take this club down. It's that bad! Lyndon Lloyd top Matchday Updates A dreadful first half for Everton at Carrow Road made the second-half challenge ultimately impossible despite a brilliant Richarlison strike against the Premier League's bottom club Norwich City. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Yerry Mina return to the squad but only Calvert-Lewin starts, with Paterson and El Ghazi also on the bench, and Rondon, for some unknown reason, given another starting place in what seems a deliberate snook cocked by Benitez to piss off as many Evertonians as he possibly can. Tom Davies remains sidelined in recovery after surgery, but there could be one positive coronavirus case in the squad. Dobbin Simms, Cannon and Onyango are no longer required, their path to first-team glory blocked by the new arrivals as Benitez looks to experience to secure a vital win this afternoon. They are instead playing for the U23s against Liverpool. Fortunately, Iwobi is away at Afcon, or you feel he would also have started today. Allan plays no part in this one, possibly because of Covid, or the ongoing rumblings about his future at the club. The home side kicked things off but Everton won the first free-kick for a foul on Gray, who curled it in deep and eventually Keane's shot was blocked, then he fouled a defender. Norwich then won a similar free-kick, headed clear. Godfrey had to block Pukki's progress as there was little to choose between the sides in the early exchanges, with sloppy passing the prime feature. Keane gave away another free-kick, closer than the last, which was cleared. Gray got a great forward run in before he was clipped, setting up a dangerous free-kick for the forward to take himself, hitting the wall. Seargent got away from Mykolenko setting up a shot on Pickford's goal from Melou. A nothing Norwich attack saw a low cross needlessly turned in past Pickford by Michael Keane... shocking schoolboy football, what a horrendous mistake. But then, from a dreadful giveaway by Gordon, Norwich stormed forward, and Idah was strong enough to beat Mykolenko and poke it past Pickford... an utter disaster of a start for Everton. Gordon was fouled wide right, Mykolenko delivered a decent ball in, headed behind for a corner. The first was scrambled behind by Krul, the second was short and cleared as Everton could not maintain the pressure. Norwich won another corner that was cleared but could not construct any kind of attack, plying the ball back to Pickford. But The Blues got forward, Doucoure's shot blocked, then winning a corner. Mykolenko's shot didn't even reach the corner flag and Gray eventually beat himself by putting the ball out. We've seen some horrific halves of incompetent football from Everton this season but this one may just be the very worst. Still a huge mountain for the Blues to climb in the second half. No change from Benitez, presumably no need to change the gameplan? Keane, who was having a dreadful game, fouled Pukki for a yellow card. Keane then gave away a corner that went out to Melou who vollyed straight at Pickford. Keane was spoken to for clambering all over Idah, giving up another free-kick. Gomes cleared with a dribble and was fouled by Sargent. Mykolenko tried to commit hair Kari with the most astounding backpass straight to Idah and was very thankful Godfrey saved his bacon. But another Norwich corner, forcing a save from Pickford. Benitez had finally admitted he needed to do something: Rondon and Coleman off: Richarlison and Mina on. Everton won a free-kick wide right, Gordon taking it but far too many yellow shirts. Mykolenko and Rashica clashed heads, halting Everton's forward momentum. Everton finally played a little but of football, Gray crossing in but to Gordon rather than Calvert-Lewin. From the corner, Mykoloenko kept it alive and although Krul punched it out, Richarlison produced a fantastic overhead kick to score for Everton. The game opened up after this, with Norwich attacking in response to Everton's increased urgency and desire. Aarons made a dangerous challenge to block Calvert-Lewin. Gordon won a corner from the free-kick. A decent free-kick from Gomes was headed down by Doucouré but off a defender and impossible for Calvert-Lewin to convert. Gordon was having a rare old tussle with Williams, and could not get past the Man Utd loanee. Richarlison and Aarons kicked each other and needed treatment, further disrupting any rhythm Everton might have built, with just 12 minutes left to rescue this simmering catastrophe for Benitez and Everton. Wnhen Everton did try to attack, though, it was just painfully slow and going nowhere, Norwich recovering possession. Gray did get forward and Godfrey rescued a layback for Gordon but he did nothing to beat the block by Giannoulis. Godfrey tried a shot after a too-clever backheel. But Everton needed more pace and instead passed the ball around laboriously until Mykolenko lofted his poor cross behind. Everton huffed and puffed with plenty of effort and desire but the quality was lacking and no real clear-cut chances had come as the game moved into 7 minutes of added time. But those minutes ticked away relentlessly with no real throat on the Norwich goal and no respite for the worst humiliation yet for Rafa Benitez. Scorers: Keane (og:16'), Idah (18'); Richarlison (60') Norwich City: Krul, Aarons [Y:65'] (80' Giannoulis), Gibson, Hanley, Williams (77' Byram), Sorensen, Lees-Melou, Rashica, Pukki [Y:70'], Sargent [Y:51'] (87' Tzolis), Idah. Subs not Used: Gunn, Dowell, Placheta, Cantwell, Kabak, Rowe. Everton: Pickford, Coleman (54' Mina), Keane [Y:47'], Godfrey, Mykolenko, Gordon, Gomes, Doucouré, Gray, Rondon, Calvert-Lewin (54' Richarlison). Subs not Used: Begovic, Kenny, Patterson, Holgate, Townsend, Gbamin, El Ghazi. Referee: Andy MadleyVAR: John Brooks Michael Kenrick top Match Preview Everton travel to Carrow Road this weekend looking to build on the FA Cup win over Hull when they face the Premier League's bottom club Norwich. The Blues will be seeking what would be only their second win since the last time these two clubs met at Goodison Park back in September, a run of form that means just nine points and five places separate them coming into the weekend. Rafael Benitez has come under mounting criticism for the slow manner in which his charges have been starting matches this season and he asserted in his pre-match press conference today the need for Everton to be "more proactive" rather than reactive. In terms of selection options, however, the manager could be in the best position he has been for many weeks, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Yerry Mina all participating in training sessions this week. Not all of them could be ready to start, though. Benitez indicated that he will make a decision on all three tomorrow before naming his starting XI. While Calvert-Lewin returned from a long lay-off at the start of the year against Brighton, Richarlison and Mina have been sidelined since the middle of last month and they will be treated "carefully", in the manager's words. Prior to today, only Tom Davies was expected to be ruled out after he underwent surgery on a hamstring tendon injury that will require 2 months of recuperation time, but Benitez revealed that there could be one positive coronavirus case in the squad. Having sacked Daniel Farke and hired Dean Smith in mid-November, the Canaries showed signs of life after a miserable start to the campaign by beating Southampton in the new boss's first match in charge, the first game in a three-match unbeaten run. Apart from Milot Rashica's solitary winner at Charlton in the Cup last weekend, they haven't scored a goal since the 30th of November and have lost six straight in the League. Everton are, of course, usually more than accommodating to teams struggling with those kinds of records and given that Benitez's men have kept only one clean sheet since beating the Canaries 2-0 at Goodison Park, Smith will be hopeful that his team can break their scoreless sequence this weekend. For Benitez, with three new players in through the door this month — loan acquisition Anwar El Ghazi could make his debut, most likely off the bench if it's to happen — and his injury worries clearing up, the excuses for what has been an awful run of relegation form are running out. Defeat to Norwich would ratchet up the pressure on the Spaniard's shoulders to unprecedented levels; in short, it's a must-win game that he dare not lose. Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 15 January 2022Referee: Andy MadleyVAR: John BrooksLast Time: Norwich City 0 - 1 Everton Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Godfrey, Mykolenko, Allan, Doucouré, Townsend, Gray, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin Lyndon Lloyd top * Unfortunately, we cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.