Everton held by Norwich
Saturday, August 17, 15:00
Everton couldn't get the dream start they wanted in Roberto Martinez's first game in charge of Everton as they were held 2-2 by Norwich at Carrow Road. Goals from Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman were not enough as Steven Whittaker and debutant Ricky Van Wolfswinkel earnt Norwich a point, with all goals scored in a lively 2nd half.
The one big surprise in the starting line up compared to last season was the inclusion of Everton youngster Ross Barkley, someone who was largely unused by former manager David Moyes. The youngster lined up as the number 10 in the 4-2-3-1 system used by Martinez. Nikica Jelavic's form in the preseason earnt him the start over new signing Arouna Kone and Barcelona loanee Gerard Deulofeu was also on the bench.
The 1st half was a rather dull affair with Everton largely dominating the possession, with Everton youngster Ross Barkley running the show for the Toffees. However both sides failed to really create any chances of note. The best chance perhaps fell to Everton winger Kevin Mirallas, who narrowly put his shot wide form the 18yd box after good hold up play from Nikica Jelavic. For Norwich, their best chance fell to new boy van Wolfswinkel but his header was wide of the mark.
The 2nd half was a completely different affair, although Everton still remained the dominant side, it was Norwich who took a surprise lead in the 51st minute courtesy of right back Steven Whittaker. The Scotsman went on a slalom run beating 3 Everton defenders with a bit of help from a fortunate deflection, he then saw his initial effort hit the post, but was there to put the rebound in.
Despite the goal, Everton still pressed on and 10mins later they found themselves on level terms courtesy of a quality strike from youngster Ross Barkley. After some good work from Seamus Coleman on the right, the Irishman then laid the ball off to Barkley, who was about 20yds out, after taking a touch to open his feet, the teenager rifled the shot into the top corner, to score his first for the club and make it 1-1.
Then 4mins later Everton found themselves ahead after Seamus Coleman capitalised on a loose ball in the 6yd box. Steven Pienaar threaded a lovely through ball into Jelavic who saw his shot saved by Norwich keeper Ruddy, however he could only parry it into the path of Coleman who put the visitors ahead 2-1.
After that, Norwich began to come into the game and in the 71st minute they found themselves level from a header from their 8.5mil signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel. There was a bit of good fortune in the goal for Norwich as Whittaker attempted an ambitious shot, however he managed to slice the ball which fell to van Wolfswinkel, who took the chance brillianty firing a bullet header into the top corner leaving Howard with no chance
The last 15mins was an even contest with both sides looking to steal the 3pts late on, and it was Everton who had the golden chance 10mins from time. A cross from Leighton Baines fell into the path of Everton substitute Steven Naismith, however his shot was saved by Ruddy, then Jelavic pounced on the rebound however his shot was blocked by Norwich defender Martin.
In the end, Everton could consider themselves a tad unlucky after dominating the game for large periods registering 69% of the possession and creating 20 attempts on goal as opposed to Norwich's 5, however, there were plenty of positives from an Everton point of view, and we will only improve as we become more comfortable in Martinez's style. After suffering a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Norwich last season at Carrow Road, I am sure Martinez and the boys will take that point and look to build on that against West Brom at Goodison Park next week.