Norwich City v Everton Preview: Too close to call?

Roberto Martinez visits Carrow Road for his Premier League game in the Everton hotseat.

Odds: Norwich 11/5, Draw 12/5, Everton 11/8

Last season’s result: 2-1

A tricky assignment for Roberto Martinez’s first Premier League game as Everton boss. Much of the speculation over the summer has been over whether Everton can hold on to Marouanne Fellaini and Leighton Baines.

Fellaini, who missed last week’s 2-1 pre-season win over Real Betis through injury played 90 minutes for Belgium against France at midweek and is expected to play against the Canaries, whilst midfield partner Darron Gibson is rated as 50-50 though the Blues boss is optimistic that he’ll play a part at the weekend – with injured defensive pair Tony Hibbert and Antolin Alcaraz unavailable for selection.

Norwich have had a very busy transfer window which has seen a change in their forward line with Gary Hooper joining from Celtic and Grant Holt departing for Wigan. Their last pre-season outing saw them overcome Greek side Panathinaikos 2-0 to cap off what has been a relatively mixed pre-season results wise.

However, Hooper is a doubt as he had to be stretchered off against Panathinaikos last Saturday with a knee and shin injury but scans on the player have come back clear with only some bruising. Manager Chris Hughton said they would monitor the striker’s fitness ahead of the weekend.

Sebastian Bassong is a doubt for the Canaries whilst Anthony Pilkington could be out until the end of the month with a knee injury.

They key battle for this game could be in the midfield as Everton will look to control the game through possession. If Wes Hoolahan plays the same role as he did against Panthinaikos for the Canaries then he may have to slot into midfield to help defensively a lot more rather than play further forward off the front man, but if he is given time and space then he could cause problems for the visitors.

This could be a very tight game that either side could steal by the odd goal, so expect a draw.

Last time the sides met:

Norwich 2-1 Everton

After Leon Osman put Everton ahead before the break, it seemed like the Blues would go on to claim all three points and keep up their challenge for a Champions League place. After having the better of much of the second, Everton folded from when Kei Kamara’s late header six minutes from time equalised for Norwich. That wasn’t the last of the goalmouth action as Grant Holt grabbed an injury time winner from close range to give Norwich an important victory after a dire run of form.

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image: © illarterate

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