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Norwich City vs Everton

Manchester City vs Everton

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Yerry Mina has started just six games this season as he has battled a series of soft-tissue injuries

Everton travel to Carrow Road this weekend looking to build on the FA Cup win over Hull when they face the Premier League’s bottom club Norwich.

The Blues will be seeking what would be only their second win since the last time these two clubs met at Goodison Park back in September, a run of form that means just nine points and five places separate them coming into the weekend.

Rafael Benitez has come under mounting criticism for the slow manner in which his charges have been starting matches this season and he asserted in his pre-match press conference today the need for Everton to be “more proactive” rather than reactive.

In terms of selection options, however, the manager could be in the best position he has been for many weeks, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Yerry Mina all participating in training sessions this week.

Not all of them could be ready to start, though. Benitez indicated that he will make a decision on all three tomorrow before naming his starting XI. While Calvert-Lewin returned from a long lay-off at the start of the year against Brighton, Richarlison and Mina have been sidelined since the middle of last month and they will be treated “carefully”, in the manager’s words.

Prior to today, only Tom Davies was expected to be ruled out after he underwent surgery on a hamstring tendon injury that will require 2 months of recuperation time, but Benitez revealed that there could be one positive coronavirus case in the squad.

Having sacked Daniel Farke and hired Dean Smith in mid-November, the Canaries showed signs of life after a miserable start to the campaign by beating Southampton in the new boss’s first match in charge, the first game in a three-match unbeaten run. Apart from Milot Rashica’s solitary winner at Charlton in the Cup last weekend, they haven’t scored a goal since the 30th of November and have lost six straight in the League.

Everton are, of course, usually more than accommodating to teams struggling with those kinds of records and given that Benitez’s men have kept only one clean sheet since beating the Canaries 2-0 at Goodison Park, Smith will be hopeful that his team can break their scoreless sequence this weekend.

For Benitez, with three new players in through the door this month — loan acquisition Anwar El Ghazi could make his debut, most likely off the bench if it’s to happen — and his injury worries clearing up, the excuses for what has been an awful run of relegation form are running out.

Defeat to Norwich would ratchet up the pressure on the Spaniard’s shoulders to unprecedented levels; in short, it’s a must-win game that he dare not lose.

Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 15 January 2022
Referee: Andy Madley
VAR: John Brooks
Last Time: Norwich City 0 – 1 Everton

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Godfrey, Mykolenko, Allan, Doucouré, Townsend, Gray, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin

 


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 Posted
14/01/2022 at
20:31:00

Proactive? Theres a first time for everything…

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
20:36:08

Sr Benitez. We are playing a team that has struggled all season. Do what you are getting paid for, send out a team with a proper shape and plan, organised and motivated, win the match.

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
20:57:25

Peter #2
And not a defensive back 5 against the team at the bottom

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
21:02:37

They looked good in training, happy and on their toes. They’ll all start, they need to even if they’re 90% ready. Benitez looked confident and determined in the presser, he knows it’s a huge game. I am expecting a convincing win for us. 4231 .There’s three goals tomorrow in this team;

Pickford
Patterson Keane Mina Mykolenko
Allan Doucoure
Gray Gordon Richarlison
DCL

Godfrey or Keane as CB ? I can’t make my mind up.

Prediction: Norwich City 1 Everton 3

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
21:02:57

Not sure if I woul like for Mina to play. A good player, yes. But he Will play one or two games and then get on another sickleave, before going away to play games for Colombia only to return with another excuse not to play for Everton for some more time. And whoops, his contract runs out.

So if we can, sell him NOW.

Oh, Calwert Lewin and Richarlison. Welcome back. Youve been missed.

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
21:05:37

If FSW can’t organise his team to win this game it is proof positive of his total inability to punch a hole in a wet echo and with only one conclusion.

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
21:13:25

I think even Benitez can put out a side to beat Norwich.

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
21:18:20

If the players are looking happy Tony, I’d be making sure I had a lift home if I was Benitez.

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
21:20:48

Can’t imagine he will start Patterson over Coleman

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
21:27:41

Even though this game is yet another level of ‘must win’, we all know that even if we do fail to beat or god forbid, lose to Norwich, the manager’s going nowhere.

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
21:37:48

5 at the back at home to Brighton and away to Hull so why would this lunatic change his god-awful dull system against the mighty Norwich ?

His stubborn, arrogant ‘my way or the highway’ attitude will take us down.

Mark my words, this joker isn’t arsed.

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
22:21:47

This commanding centre half we need may already be here. When Branthwaite is fit he should be part of the spine of the team.

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
22:39:36

I’m not expecting any change of set up and shape from the Hull match.

But this is a must win game, and Norwich will be up this game and will fancy their chances.

The heat is on and I sense there’s a powder keg of frustration simmering amongst Evertonians, across all view points.

Rafa advocates, and non advocates, all Evertonians, but honestly sick to the back teeth of the poor performances and style of football.

The Spanish Inquisition in terms of Everton, looks like it’s gathering momentum and Moshiri, is backing his man. But ain’t want Everton to succeed, and as they say there’s no gain without pain.

Every game is a cup final, but tomorrow it’s a game Everton must win, no excuses.

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
22:40:38

I don’t care what team he starts against the ”bottom feeders” they should get three points. Anything less would be yet another disaster and ring in the death knell for Rafa.

I am sure he is still considering starting Rondon even if DCL is fit.

Surely to God he won’t start a back five against this lot.

He has brought in another player on the cheap although they have pocketed $25 million from the Digne sale but I suppose that is to somewhat offset the cost of the two new full backs who may not start tomorrow.

If El Ghazi can do some good work like Townsend and Gray then we cannot complain but we need to start winning again.

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
23:23:19

Brian, I’d like to see Branthwaite alongside Mina. But then we’ve got Godfrey too.

With the 2 new full backs and a 3 of Richarlison, Gray and Gordon behind Calvert-Lewin plus the options of Townsend and El Ghazi, suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad. Gordon in the number 10 role anyone? Or would that constrain his play? It would be him or Richarlison.

We still need to mind the gap between midfield and defence if we go with a 2, but if Mina plays, he should get them higher.

At least it’s match day and we can talk about the football rather than the politics.

 Posted
14/01/2022 at
23:58:56

Heartening to see the injury list clearing. We just have to win this one. Let’s attack the rest of the season like a team possessed.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
00:14:42

I’d be tempted to go with Richarlison on the left and Gordon on the right. The work rate of those 2 is so good that, when we’re defending, we have 2 wide midfielders as part of compact midfield 4. However, when attacking, they’re immediately playing as wingers.

With those 2 out wide, I don’t know if we need the extra body in midfield. It does however, depend on whether the defence has the confidence to play a bit higher.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
00:40:25

Obviously good to see the the injury situation improving, and getting 3 new players on board. I agree with Jay (11). The biggest worry continues to be Benitez. Don’t be surprised to see 5 at the back, despite the evidence in recent weeks against teams we should be beating. Our manager said yesterday it’s the players not his tactics. Yeah right. Big game. I’m looking forward.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
00:41:41

Gordon has been our best player for the last 3/4 games (albeit with little in the way of competition).

Him being dropped to the bench just feels oh so predictable. It would be so absurd, so wrong, that it would be almost uneverton-like to not drop him.

Townsend will probable start. And he’ll probable play 5-4-1

I expect:
Pickford
Mylo Godfrey Keane Coleman Patterson
Allan Doucoure Townsend (to be replaced by Gordon or El Ghazi) Grey (to be replaced by Richy)
DCL (to be replaced by Rondon)

I hope:
Pickford
Mylo Godfrey Mina Patterson
Allan Doucoure
Townsend Grey Gordon
DCL

Richy, El Ghazi and Dobbin as options on the bench.

I expect: 2-1 win, scrappy, but this is the worst team in the league, even we couldn’t…could we?

I hope: 4-0 win. DCL back in the midst of scoring, Gordon with another, a goal for one of the full backs to get them really up for it.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
03:21:23

Apparently Allan has covid so its Doucoure and Gomes in MF with a back 4 of Patterson Mina Godfrey Myollenko
and Gordon Gray and Richy with DCL up front.

A blue 23 points. Onwards and upwards.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
03:54:44

I wouldn’t risk Mina because the guy is made of glass. Let him be fully fit and ready for the home game against Villa.

For me, a back 3 of Godfrey, Keane and Branthwaite.
Myko and Patterson as the wing backs
Gomes and Doucoure in central midfield
Gordon, Gray and DCL our front 3

Richarlison to come on for Gordon after about 60 mins
Gbamin for Gomes with about 15 to go
El Ghazi for Gray late in the game

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
04:11:33

Danny @ 15, I would go for Gray on the number 10 role. Gordon is maturing his game nicely in a wide role so let’s keep him there this season.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
05:07:16

Ajay

Disappointed to see you buying into this back five shit versus Norwich. Thought you were wiser mate

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
05:28:15

We can’t risk Mina in the starting 11 and we know RB won’t play Branthwaite, though he should. It’s gotta be 4 in the back, so it’s Patterson — time to see what the young lad has got — Keane, Godfrey, and Mykolenko. I think he slots in Delph for Allan to sit in the defensive role, then Doucoure and Gomes in the middle. Has to be Gordon, Gray and DCL up front. Only bring on Richarlison if we’re chasing the game, leave Mina on the bench, so at least we get him for the first 40-60 minutes against Villa before he gets injured.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
06:34:30

Kieran (25), a back 3 need not necessarily be a more defensive/stodgy line-up. 2 young, fast, athletic CBs in Godfrey and Branthwaite would enable Keane to push up further and distribute the ball to the flanks. And I think this would help our new FBs – Mykolenko and Patterson – integrate faster into the team by reducing their defensive responsibilities as wing backs. This formation would also help in Branthwaite’s introduction to the back line. If it is a back 4, I see Benitez using Coleman, (a half fit) Mina, Keane, and Mykolenko, which would be slower and more ponderous than the back 3 + wing backs formation.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
07:34:37

I don’t give a shite what formation he plays, as long as we get 3 points.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
07:50:43

The manager and the players know what is expected of them.

With recent signings and the injury backlog clearing, I am expecting a convincing win.

Although Norwich have improved a little under Smith, but we should surely be better than them.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
07:50:55

Pickford
Coleman Mina Branthwaite Mykolenko

Gordon Doucoure Alan

Gray Calvert – Lewin Richarlison

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
08:01:31

I agree a must win, must take the game to the opposition, not sit back and give a goal a way at the start. I live in Norwich, and have seen several of their last home games. Their confidence is very low, they try and play good football, but are very weak at the back and over reliant on Pukki upfront. They go to games expecting to lose.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
08:27:25

Jay 22, Allan out with Covid. Has this been confirmed ?
In the press conference Benitez looked concerned when a journo was talking about Covid and Benitez saying we needed cover because of it. I felt with his body language there was someone important who has isolated. I hope there’s no truth in it as Allan doesn’t really have a direct replacement. Against Norwich though this can’t go do as an excuse, regardless we should be winning this match.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
08:34:18

Delph was a very good player and could one day play a very key role for us if he ever stops getting injured. Could be a surprise today if our caretaker manager decides to play a football set up.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
08:51:14

Must win game, I am anxious about it, we need 3 points, no exceptions! Rafa will surely be out if we lose along with a poor performance. Plus my whole family are Norwich fans, I don’t want the hassle.

I don’t subscribe to the Allan bashing that goes on here, I for one feel he is a good player who is all at sea in a system that doesn’t work right now, I hope he is available.

Some interesting line-up suggestions above. I for one would go:
Pickford, Coleman, Mina, Godfrey, Mykolenko.
Allan Gomes Doucoure
Gordon DCL Gray

Bring Richy on with 30 mins to go to give him game time, I would also be looking to introduce young Patterson, if we are going to blood him this season then what better game in the PL than against Norwich who are woeful?

If Rafa does play 5 at the back then I really hope its to accommodate Brainthwaite and Godfrey alongside either Mina or Keane – there is legs in that back 3. If we do this then I want to see us really push the wingbacks up the field as Godfrey and Brainthwaite have real pace to cover. I would start Patterson for this over Seamus.

The pressure is really on for Rafa here, it appears objectively that the board are building for the future with him in charge. I do get it (even if not my choice) as he can ruffle feathers, change cultures and be ruthless with the dross and shirkers. Yet I just can’t see how we can feasibly give him more time if we lose a couple more in a row. We are in a relegation fight, the stage is set for Big Dunc to take the reins and immortalise himself further in the eyes of blue-tinted Merseyside.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
08:53:17

Depends a bit on who is genuinely fit. I’m hoping it’s not a 5221 because the players don’t seem comfortable with it even though as Ajay says it looks a good fit on paper.

Depending on how fit people really are probably:

Pickford
Coleman
Godfrey
Keane
Mina
Allan
Doucoure
Gordon
Townsend
Gray
Richarlison / DCL

That’s not a bad side at all despite various weaknesses. 4 attacking players in the side with genuine goal threat and pace. Would hope that’s too much for Norwich.

I really like Branthwaite but I can’t see him dislodging Keane or Mina if they’re both fit.

I’d also be surprised if either of the new FBs start – and did I hear that El Ghazi signed too late for this?

COYB!

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
08:55:18

Pickford
Coleman, Mina, Godfrey, Mykolenko
Gomes, Holgate, Doucoure
Gordon, DCL, Gray

Patterson to replace Coleman if tiring.

If Allan is out, Holgate could do that job I believe.

Can’t drop Gordon. He’s in form and scored goals in his last Prem game.

Keane, Iwobi and Rondon should be nowhere near the team.

Richarlison to come on for any of the front three if needed.

El Ghazi and Townsend there if needed.

Branthwaite to replace Mina if needed

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
08:55:25

We cannot and should not play Doucourér and Gomez as a two in midfield. We need 3 in midfield and if Alan is out with Covid then Delph has to play alongside them. We need to win this game more than any this season. If we don’t then I believe we will get relegated. He also must not play Rondon or even have him on the bench. When are journalists going to ask him some serious questions on why he petsist with his none working tactics and why he plays Rondon

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
08:58:30

Midfield options are very poor. Definitely need options in there

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
09:01:22

Make no mistake, this is a 6 pointer and wether we care to admit it, it’s January and we’re around the bottom 3 so we’re in a relegation scrap.

There is no place for 5 at the back imho. Certainly not against Norwich. He has to go for the jugular. Place 3 in central midfield.

I don’t want to rush players back if they’re not fully fit and then risk further injury but my god we’ve missed Richarlison DCL and arguably Mina the most. He brings out the best in Keane. I also think 3 in midfield brings out the best in Doucoure, as does he it would seem.

Today will be an indication of stubborn arse wants to keep his job or he is in indeed agent Rafa.

My fingers are crossed for

Pickford
Mykolenko
Keane
Mina
Patterson

Allan
Gomes
Doucouré

Gray
DCL
Richarlison

4-5-1.

I know that won’t be the team but we can hope though. A dogshit coleman will stay in the side, Godfrey will play, which I have no issues with as long as it’s next to Mina and instead of Keane. I also feel Gordon will be unlucky if he misses out so would have no issues with him keeping his place and bringing Richarlison on for him with 30 mins to go, just to protect him a little and ease him back in. The score will dictate that though I suppose.

The bench should be strong for the first time in a while and we won’t see 3 keepers in the squad. Branthwaite Townsend el ghazi Dobbin Delph should all be there, joined by some of the above that don’t make the 11.

I hope Rafa gets his shit together today because we need the points and we are running out of games and patience.

I want us to torture Norwich today. 0-4.

COYB

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
09:08:31

To be honest I’m fearing Benitez’s team formation/ set up, more than I’m fearing Norwich City.

I’m hoping with the returning players we resume normal service on the formation / tactical side and play to our strengths. We need to let Norwich do the worrying about us in this match, we have better players and a near full squad to choose from.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
09:18:01

So many of our games have been so very important. The win at Hull was a case in point and now this game can either catapult us upwards and ease the anxiety, or drag us down into the dogfight in the cesspool of shite below.
I doubt Rafa will risk Richie from the start but I fear he might have to rest Gray.
The guy has worked his socks off and looks to have had a few knocks.
Five at the back again will have me spitting feathers.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
09:18:28

A 5-4-1 is on paper a defensive setup with 5 defenders, but with flexibility in that system it could also be 3-4-3 or 3-4-2-1. It depends on what mental attitude you have installed in the players. You can play with your wingbacks pushing up and pressing high, “crowding out” the opponent forcing errors.

Imo this is what’s not working with Rafa. We always start with a negative mindset, to “protect” our own goal, and because of that we end up very deep in our own pitch and let the opponents get to us. This has resulted in early goals, and and upphill battle in most games. The pressing isn’t working, we are not “crowding out” the opponent, they can easily play out of the press, and when they’ve done that, easily play through our midfield and put our defence under pressure.

This is were Rafa’s tactical knowledge is limited imo, he doesn’t know how to play a modern pressing game, he is to cautious or doesn’t dare to do it, in fear of us getting exposed. When you play in this way you need your team to be a cohesive pressing collective unit. Our pressing is sporadic and individual, that’s why it’s so easy to play out of.

Playing attacking football means taking risks and doing that you can concede, but with an approach to aim to ultimately score more than your opponent to win the game. Rafa isn’t ready to take any attacking risks, he’s signalling that he doesn’t trust the players doing it by his negative setup. I believe they are more than capable to play an attacking, high-pressing football.

Imo it’s not in the formation but how you utilise your players within it and which mental attitude you have installed in your players. Against most teams we should play with an attacking mental attitude. There’s no excuse to play defensively against the likes of Crystal Palace, Brighton, Norwich or any else for that matter, except maybe Man City or the shite.

However he who dares, wins! So an attacking approach even against those two teams should be preferred. Even if we lose, we will give it a go, and the game will be very enjoyable, instead of the “park the bus”-mentality that usually is displayed. Mostly we loose those games anyway, despite playing that way, so what would be the difference in trying to “get at them”?

Massive game tonight, and I hope the mental setup isn’t his usual negative, and that we give it a real go from the off, get momentum and an advantage over them. Anything else than three points should lead to the sacking of Rafa.

 Posted
15/01/2022 at
09:26:13

Peter @2 That should be the minimum for every game and is one area where Snr. Benitez has underwhelmed me – I truly expected more from him in this area. He also really needs a critical friend within his coaching team to make him reflect on some woeful decision making around team set up which again is a sadly reoccurring theme. I suspect today will be instructive on many levels for how things are going to look for the rest of the season and potentially further into the future.


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