Everton defeat Norwich to go 4th
Saturday, January 11, 15:00
Everton jumped back into that lucrative 4th place as they saw off Norwich 2-0 at Goodison Park on Saturday. A Gareth Barry stunner opened the scoring for Everton in the 23rd minute and a Kevin Mirallas free kick early in the 2nd half effectively killed the contest on the hour mark. Despite the comfortable scoreline, Norwich did pose some danger to the Everton side and they will lament some poor finishing, but given the form of Everton in the 1st half and early in the 2nd half, it was a thoroughly deserved win for Everton. The result saw them leap frog neighbours Liverpool into 4th, with Liverpool playing on Sunday.
Everton made several changes to the side that defeated QPR 4-0, Jelavic was left out of the squad as he seems on his way out to Hull City. The likes of Baines and Lukaku also returned to the starting XI after being rested for the FA Cup clash. In a blow for the Toffees, young star Barkley suffered a toe injury and could potentially face a couple weeks on the sideline. It was revealed prior to kickoff that Everton had acquired the services of Aiden McGeady and the Irishman should be available for next week's clash with West Brom. Norwich made a couple changes as well, and shifted to a 4-4-2 with Hooper and Van Wolfswinkel upfront.
Everton started the brighter of the two and largely controlled the pace of the game and they had a golden chance to take the lead through Lukaku. Mirallas whipped in a cross and all it needed was a touch for the Big Belgian, however he could not get that touch and went harmlessly wide. Norwich then shortly after managed to create their best chance of the half after a terrific long ball from Whittaker landed in the path of the in form Hooper, however Hooper's touch let him down and Howard managed to get to the ball.
Everton continued to search for that first goal and just after the 20min mark they found it courtesy of Gareth Barry. After a brilliant touch and control from Lukaku, the Belgian laid it into the path of Barry and the on loan man continued to run towards the goal with Norwich defenders backing off, Barry then decided to take the shot from 20yds and unleashed an unstoppable shot that left Ruddy helpless to give Everton a deserved 1-0 lead.
After that goal, Everton continued their dominance on the game, however a combination of poor final ball and poor finishing meant that the Norwich shot stopper was never really tested in the 1st half. Norwich, despite conceding the possession were still dangerous on the counter and on the stroke of half time could have found themselves level, however Howard was quick to get out of his goal and force the striker away from goal, and the Van Wolfswinkel's shot was comfortably controlled by Stones, and he managed to clear it away.
In the 2nd half, it was more of the same from Everton and inside 10mins they doubled their lead courtesy of Kevin Mirallas. After Baines was taken down by Bennett, Mirallas stepped up to the task and from 20yds managed to stick it right into the corner and left Ruddy with little chance.
After that 2nd goal, the momentum did seem to shift as Everton let there foot off the gas, and Norwich, who had brought on Redmond were a bit more expansive and to their credit didn't lay down, and fashioned a couple decent chances with Snodgrass, Van Wolfswinkel, Redmond and Johnson all squandering their chances as Everton eventually ran out 2-0 winners.
Up until the 2nd goal, Everton were pretty good, our passing was outstanding and with a better final ball and finishing, we really could've killed the game early on. It was really disappointing to see us relax after the 2nd goal and let Norwich back into the game, but thankfully it didn't cost us in the end. Overall as an Everton fan you can;t really have any complaints. It was a decent performance, with 2 cracking goals, 3pts which sees us jump into 4th and we have a new signing in McGeady. So it was a good day for Everton as far as I am concerned.