Norwich vs Everton - Match preview and team news
Norwich will be looking for their first home victory since beating Wigan in mid-December as they take on Everton at Carrow Road. The Toffees were denied progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals by a last-gasp Matty Smith header against Oldham and will be keen to get back to the league this weekend and try and grab their first victory this month.
The Canaries salvaged a draw against Everton earlier this season thanks to a late Sebastian Bassong header at Goodison Park. Draws have been the theme for Norwich in recent fixtures with three successive stalemates, which have only moved them six points away from the relegation zone. The last time the Canaries won was against Peterborough in the third round of the FA Cup and that is the only victory for Norwich in 2013. Chris Hughton’s side went on a 10-match unbeaten run in late autumn that looked to squash relegation fears, but poor recent form has dragged Norwich back into the battle and they need inspiration to stop those doubts creeping back in.
Captain Grant Holt’s return will be a much-needed boost for Hughton and goals will be needed as Wes Hoolahan is the only Norwich player to score in the last five Premier League games. Midfielders Alexander Tettey and Andrew Surman are both minor doubts, while goalkeeper John Ruddy will not be available to face his former side with a thigh problem.
Everton hold an impressive record of just four defeats this season, only bettered by the two Manchester clubs. However, too many draws against bottom half sides have scuppered the early season momentum David Moyes had achieved. Moyes himself has refused to negotiate a new contract until the end of the season, which has started the rumour mill of whether the Scotsman will remain at Goodison Park. A positive end-of-season, with Everton still in touching distance of the Champions League, could change Moyes’ mind and the Toffees will be looking to kick on as the season ends.
Victor Anichebe will face a late fitness test after picking up a knock at Boundary Park and with Tony Hibbert and Seamus Coleman still on the sidelines, January signing John Stones could make his debut at right-back. The Toffees have used just 22 players so far this season, showing the threadbare squad Moyes has at his disposal, but have managed to reach sixth in the table, just six points away from fourth-placed Tottenham.
Everton will hold revenge in their heads following the two points dropped against Norwich earlier this season and with hopes of Europe for the first time since 2009, three points is vital. However, the last time Everton won at Carrow Road was in 2004 when a Duncan Ferguson goal 15 minutes from time sealed all three points. Norwich will be keen to avoid another draw, but solid foundations defensively could be the key to maintaining their Premier League survival this season.