Everton entertain an in-form Norwich City on Saturday, where it is crucial return to winning ways, ahead of three tough games, says Matthew Desai.
The Toffees, who have only won one of their last six, play Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham in the next two weeks, so picking up maximum points this weekend is absolutely vital.
Norwich are set to provide a stern test however, having not lost in five Premier League outings, conceding just one, and turning over Arsenal and Manchester United in the process.
Everton let a half-time lead slip away at Reading last weekend, where an Adam Le Fondre brace condemned The Blues to only their second defeat of the season. Steven Naismith gave the visitors an early lead, and the game could have been won three times over by the break. However, like previous matches, a lack of cutting edge in front of goal cost David Moyes’ side all three points.
Manchester United became Norwich City’s second big scalp of the season at Carrow Road last Saturday evening. With half an hour remaining, Anthony Pilkington rose magnificently to meet Javier Garrido’s cross, and Chris Hughton’s men were well worth their win.
Marouane Fellaini is suspended for Everton, after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season last weekend. Darron Gibson came through a reserve outing unscathed on Sunday, and could be in the squad; meanwhile Kevin Mirallas, Tony Hibbert and Victor Anichebe will all undergo late fitness tests. Ross Barkley may also be included after being recalled from a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday to cover for the injured Phil Neville.
Norwich will hope defenders Michael Turner and Russell Martin come through late fitness tests to be involved in Saturday’s match, while John Ruddy has shaken off a slight knee problem and will play against his former club.
Going by recent statistics, few, if any teams, have had more shots on goal than Everton this season, right across Europe. The Blues have a new-found attacking edge this campaign, but a failure to turn chances into goals have cost them crucial points in recent weeks. Norwich, after a poor start, have become a strong force that are tough to beat, but you have to feel it’s only a matter of time until Everton absolute thrash somebody, and with a tough couple of weeks approaching, it would be more welcome than ever this weekend.