PREVIEW | Everton v Norwich City
Saturday afternoon is sure to be an interesting game between Everton and Norwich City. Both teams crashed out of the Carabao Cup midweek, and both lost their last league game. An injury-hit Everton were beaten 3-0 by Aston Villa, whilst Norwich were comprehensively beaten 3-1 by Watford.
The defeat left the Canaries bottom of the table with zero points, whereas the Blues sit sixth after their first defeat of the campaign.
The Aston Villa game was hard to take, especially after the fantastic start the Toffees had made to the season. Four key players missing, some players lacking match fitness and some players not at their best meant Everton slumped to a defeat in the Midlands.
Despite two defeats on the spin, the home side have still made a respectable start to the season, with ten points from five games. Rafa Benitez can be happy with the start that his side has made but will be hoping that they can bounce back from recent losses.
Norwich’s start to the season however has been markedly different. They have opened with five defeats, conceding fourteen goals in the process, and scoring only two. Yet it must be noted that Norwich have had quite possibly the toughest start to a season in a long time.
They faced Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester City and Arsenal in their opening four games. It is safe to say that they were not expected to pick up many points from those games, but they need to start winning games soon or they will most certainly be heading straight back to the Championship.
The Merseyside outfits challenge tomorrow comes in the form of a side that have lost their last fifteen games in the Premier League, including their last eight away from home. However, their last away win was November 2019, against Everton. Todd Cantwell and Dennis Srbeny scoring for the Yellows in a 2-0 victory.
For the fixture tomorrow, Benitez’s side will still be without Jordan Pickford, Seamus Coleman, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The manager said he still expects them all to be out for another two weeks. After the defeats to Aston Villa and QPR, it will be interesting to see how Everton line up tomorrow.
It is also the Toffees first game since James Rodriguez left the club to move to Al Rayyan in Qatar.
Daniel Farke will be without Christoph Zimmerman and Todd Cantwell for the game at Goodison Park, whilst there is also a doubt over Milot Rashica. However, Farke could welcome back both Mathias Normann and Josh Sargent.
One to Watch – Everton
Both wingers signed by Rafa Benitez in the summer transfer window have had an instant impact. Demarai Gray was the focus for the game against Aston Villa, this week it is Andros Townsend, who arrived on a free.
Townsend’s start to the season has been impressive, with two assists and one goal of the season contender against Burnley. His rating from the five games so far this season on WhoScored is a respectable 7.19, including an 8.33 MOTM performance against the Clarets.
One of Townsend’s strengths is without question his crossing, with this already being demonstrated to the Evertonians with assists against Southampton and Burnley. His set-pieces have also been dangerous this season, and against a leaky
defence like Norwich, these strengths could be key to breaking them down.
One to Watch – Norwich City
With former Werder Bremen winger Milot Rashica a doubt for the Canaries, Teemu Pukki is Norwich’s one to watch. He has scored both of the Norfolk-based sides goals this season and he will be looking to add to his tally tomorrow.
Pukki failed to score in both games against the Toffees the last times the sides met, although he did score eleven goals in his debut season in the Premier League, as well as scoring twenty-six in the Championship last season.
According to WhoScored, his strengths include his hold-up play and his finishing, so it is vital that Everton do not allow any balls into the feet of Pukki.
His weaknesses include his aerial ability, so cutting off the supply line to him and forcing Norwich to play long could be vital to Everton getting back to winning ways.
The Toffees are hoping to get back to winning ways tomorrow, whilst Norwich are looking for their first Premier League win in fifteen games. Let’s hope that Everton are not going to be that side again tomorrow.