Starting on Wednesday, Everton are facing seven days that will define their season. In a week David Moyes’ side will face Norwich City, days after playing Swansea City. Both matches are at Goodison Park, and both fall squarely in the must-win category.
Swansea’s away record is enough to give Everton added hope. Brendan Rogers’ side have yet to win on their travels in the top flight, drawing twice and losing five times, but Everton’s home record is only slightly more comforting. Only two wins have come the Blues’ way, but adding two more is pivotal to where Everton will lie in the New Year. 22 points would be a decent tally to take into the post-Christmas fixtures – only the current top seven have more – but being stuck on 16 could leave Everton dangerously close to the bottom three, particularly if a couple of the teams below pick up a handful of wins in the next week.
The matches themselves will be hard-fought, and against the possession-orientated Swans Everton might find themselves on the carousel for a while, to borrow Sir Alex Ferguson’s description of Barcelona. But if Everton can disrupt Swansea’s rhythm, and the midfield dominance of Marouane Fellaini will go a long way towards that, and find some firepower, three points should arrive in due course. Fellaini, just one of the players Moyes will look to over this vital period, was briefly used as an auxiliary striker against Arsenal, but such a switch gives Everton only slightly more threat in attack at the expense of removing their best, most important midfielder from his natural position.
If it is not to be Fellaini who provides the goals for Everton through this pre-festive period, then the onus falls back on Louis Saha – Apostolos Vellios is still only capable of cameos, while faith in Denis Stracqualursi began low and has not gotten any higher. Until the cavalry arrives in January – at least, that is the hope around Goodison – the Frenchman will have to dig a little deeper to find his form of past years. If he does, Everton will have the goals to overcome Swansea and Norwich. If not, this coming week could be the preamble to a torturous season.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Everton v Norwich