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
Reader Comments (80)
Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer
1 Posted 14/01/2022 at 20:31:00
2 Posted 14/01/2022 at 20:36:08
3 Posted 14/01/2022 at 20:57:25
And not a defensive back 5 against the team at the bottom
4 Posted 14/01/2022 at 21:02:37
Patterson Keane Mina Mykolenko
Gray Gordon Richarlison
Godfrey or Keane as CB ? I cant make my mind up.
Prediction: Norwich City 1 Everton 3
5 Posted 14/01/2022 at 21:02:57
So if we can, sell him NOW.
Oh, Calwert Lewin and Richarlison. Welcome back. Youve been missed.
6 Posted 14/01/2022 at 21:05:37
7 Posted 14/01/2022 at 21:13:25
8 Posted 14/01/2022 at 21:18:20
9 Posted 14/01/2022 at 21:20:48
10 Posted 14/01/2022 at 21:27:41
11 Posted 14/01/2022 at 21:37:48
His stubborn, arrogant ‘my way or the highway attitude will take us down.
Mark my words, this joker isnt arsed.
12 Posted 14/01/2022 at 22:21:47
13 Posted 14/01/2022 at 22:39:36
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 theres 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 its gathering momentum and Moshiri, is backing his man. But aint want Everton to succeed, and as they say theres no gain without pain.
Every game is a cup final, but tomorrow its a game Everton must win, no excuses.
14 Posted 14/01/2022 at 22:40:38
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.
15 Posted 14/01/2022 at 23:23:19
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.
16 Posted 14/01/2022 at 23:58:56
17 Posted 14/01/2022 at 00:11:16
With the fixture list the way it is, three points would bring much needed much needed momentum and a little breathing space in regards to the league table. And a loss would be...well let's not go there because it's not going to happen anyway. (Is it Benitez???)
Happily for all concerned it looks like we're getting some important players back from injury at the right time. Don't really trust Benitez to pick the right team, and I don't think we have enough quality to let the three players referred to in the headline sit this one out either. So hoping Dom at least will feature from the beginning, with Richi from the bench.
If Mina is fully fit he's a must start for me, but his injury record speaks for itself. There is no point taking any chance on him if anything less than fully fit because it will just end in another long spell on the trainers table.
Norwich had a decent spell at the end of November, but the "new manager bounce" didn't last long. Six league losses on the spin and only one goal in the league in their last eight. They look dead ducks as far as Premier League survival goes; all three points is an absolute must.
Will be watching this one with huge interest and I'll confess, no small amount of trepidation.
18 Posted 15/01/2022 at 00:14:42
With those 2 out wide, I dont 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.
19 Posted 15/01/2022 at 00:40:25
20 Posted 15/01/2022 at 00:41:41
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
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)
Mylo Godfrey Mina Patterson
Townsend Grey Gordon
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.
22 Posted 15/01/2022 at 03:21:23
and Gordon Gray and Richy with DCL up front.
A blue 23 points. Onwards and upwards.
23 Posted 15/01/2022 at 03:54:44
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
24 Posted 15/01/2022 at 04:11:33
25 Posted 15/01/2022 at 05:07:16
Disappointed to see you buying into this back five shit versus Norwich. Thought you were wiser mate
26 Posted 15/01/2022 at 05:28:15
27 Posted 15/01/2022 at 06:34:30
28 Posted 15/01/2022 at 07:34:37
29 Posted 15/01/2022 at 07:50:43
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.
30 Posted 15/01/2022 at 07:50:55
Coleman Mina Branthwaite Mykolenko
Gordon Doucoure Alan
Gray Calvert - Lewin Richarlison
31 Posted 15/01/2022 at 08:01:31
32 Posted 15/01/2022 at 08:27:25
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 theres no truth in it as Allan doesnt really have a direct replacement. Against Norwich though this cant go do as an excuse, regardless we should be winning this match.
33 Posted 15/01/2022 at 08:34:18
34 Posted 15/01/2022 at 08:51:14
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.
35 Posted 15/01/2022 at 08:53:17
Depending on how fit people really are probably:
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?
36 Posted 15/01/2022 at 08:55:18
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.
Cant drop Gordon. Hes 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
37 Posted 15/01/2022 at 08:55:25
38 Posted 15/01/2022 at 08:58:30
39 Posted 15/01/2022 at 09:01:22
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 dont want to rush players back if theyre not fully fit and then risk further injury but my god weve 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
I know that wont 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 its 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 wont see 3 keepers in the squad. Branthwaite Townsend el ghazi Dobbin Delph should all be there, joined by some of the above that dont 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.
40 Posted 15/01/2022 at 09:08:31
Im 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.
41 Posted 15/01/2022 at 09:18:01
I doubt Rafa will risk Richarlison 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.
42 Posted 15/01/2022 at 09:18:28
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.
43 Posted 15/01/2022 at 09:26:13
44 Posted 15/01/2022 at 09:43:21
He had a tremendous game last week and seemed to have developed an understanding with Gray. Their interplay was lovely to watch at times.
45 Posted 15/01/2022 at 09:50:59
Coleman andTownsend to provide fresh legs in the final quarter.
46 Posted 15/01/2022 at 09:52:13
I don't know if it's been a 5-4-1, 5-2-3, 3-5-2 or whatever.
If we're confused, I dread to think what the players are thinking when they're looking at that whiteboard in the dressing room.
I'm guessing it's a 5-2-3 morphing into a 3-5-2 depending on whether we're on the attack or defending.
Talk about complicating football. My brain hurts.
47 Posted 15/01/2022 at 09:53:46
48 Posted 15/01/2022 at 09:54:17
No one would ever be stupid enough to pick that team or anything that even resembled it, would they
49 Posted 15/01/2022 at 09:59:08
Would expect Kenny and probably Gordon to give way to Richarlison and Townsend, and Calvert-Lewin for Rondon with Gordon being on a strong bench.
A win is a must, but some of these player need to start putting a shift in to show they are willing to fight for their place.
50 Posted 15/01/2022 at 10:00:01
I'm going off the amount of times the boy dog spent "on the throne" this morning.
3 goals to Everton. That's what he's telling me.
51 Posted 15/01/2022 at 10:01:31
52 Posted 15/01/2022 at 10:05:19
53 Posted 15/01/2022 at 10:05:31
54 Posted 15/01/2022 at 10:07:18
Its a classic Everton scenario, Norwich suddenly find top form and you know the rest.
A win would be great but its not going to be easy.
55 Posted 15/01/2022 at 10:09:27
56 Posted 15/01/2022 at 10:21:35
57 Posted 15/01/2022 at 10:27:15
58 Posted 15/01/2022 at 10:31:00
Without Seamus we dont have any sort of leader so I think he will play. Norwich have some decent footballers and we need three in CM which will be difficult if Allan is out. Gordon must start- its a shame we dont have a couple more like him- as should Richi if he is fully fit, but Id start him on the bench just in case he isnt.
Coleman Mina Branthwaite Mykolenko
Doucoure Gomes ( or Delph)Townsend
Gordon Gray DCL
59 Posted 15/01/2022 at 10:54:03
We need to stamp our authority on the midfield from the start or Cantwell et al will have a field day.
60 Posted 15/01/2022 at 11:00:29
61 Posted 15/01/2022 at 11:04:16
I like him, busy, industrious but lightweight. A few big boys were sniffing 2 seasons ago but hasn't clicked for him this year, I would have baulked at the price tag mentioned then but £13-15M wouldn't be sniffed at by Norwich for a player they will lose for free at the end of the season. He's a 10 more than a winger.
62 Posted 15/01/2022 at 11:06:02
63 Posted 15/01/2022 at 11:09:51
Coleman, Mina, Branthwaite, Mykolenko
Doucoure, Delph, Gomes
Gordon, Richarlison, Gray.
Bench: DCL, Townsend, Godfrey, Patterson, Keane, El Ghazi, Rondon
Got to win this one.
64 Posted 15/01/2022 at 11:17:45
Plus if Richarlison leaves then the manager has a lot of dough to spend on a top quality player - although the Lukaku situation tells us it's not always the case.
As long as Norwich don't score more than one goal, in the second half our bench will help us out in the second half.
Not sure why, but Rafa seems to to try to get 2 or 3 goals in the second half to win games it seems. But if this is a way that can win games and trophies, then we'll see as time goes on. Maybe he has stats that says games are won in the second half generally.
65 Posted 15/01/2022 at 11:29:04
I am less optimistic than you about what will happen to the Richarlison funds, personally I think we've potentially spent all we can (bar maybe a CM) and the rest will go on balancing the books.
66 Posted 15/01/2022 at 11:47:23
67 Posted 15/01/2022 at 11:53:28
That (Trek) oat flap jack sugar rush I just had took me to a crazy place for a moment where we do sensible things with the money.
Anyway, I'll stick my neck out and say Rafa will do his tactic of containment in the first half, and ask the boys to play hard in the second half and win.
Less about formation, and more about when the team expends their energy so far this season. Basically don't go hard at the kick off or first 20 minutes.
If the players aren't in condition to play full throttle up to 100 minutes time on the pitch in total every game, whose fault is this? Or... is it just the players?
68 Posted 15/01/2022 at 12:03:12
69 Posted 15/01/2022 at 12:23:47
That is our best team, but I would expect Rafa to start Coleman, Godfrey, Keane, Gordon, and Townsend ahead.
70 Posted 15/01/2022 at 12:26:06
We don't have a set-up that has the confidence to take games by the scruff of the neck from the off and invite other teams to come at us.
Last week's opening spell was so typical and we got lucky.
All teams can play a bit, even Norwich and if you allow those teams you will find yourself in a battle every week which Everton does.
Rafa is on thin ice now and doesn't seem to have anything else to offer in order to get out of the doldrums.
Sad to say we may be changing manager's again soon.
71 Posted 15/01/2022 at 12:33:54
72 Posted 15/01/2022 at 12:36:35
Mina, Keane, Branthwaite
Patterson, Doucoure, Gomes, Townsend
Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin. Gray
73 Posted 15/01/2022 at 12:52:19
Im praying 🙏 to the football gods that Benitez sets us up to attack this outfit right from the off. No cagey sitting back and waiting to see what they can do , and then reacting to it in the second half.
74 Posted 15/01/2022 at 13:02:38
75 Posted 15/01/2022 at 13:07:45
Straight up ! No Shit ? :-)
Having watched Norwich recently they should not be underestimated nor feared, I think we should have too much for them without stupid team selections and mistakes that is.
76 Posted 15/01/2022 at 13:08:18
It was a terrible injury he had, but he's only been 60-70% of the player he was. His bucaneering Cafu runs a real pleasure, have disappeared.
I'd give Patterson a start as soon as possible. If he's not ready, fair enough, but we will never know if we don't try. He's played international football already, which should be a better level than a poor Norwich.
Same goes for Branthwaite. When ever I've seen him, I've been impressed. Will he make mistakes, probably - but no more than Holgate, Keane and an out of form Godfrey.
77 Posted 15/01/2022 at 13:13:11
I love Everton so I will be hoping that we will play like Brazil (the 1970 version) and win 5-0. When it will probably be a dreadful 1-1 draw.
I hope Rafa turns it around.
78 Posted 15/01/2022 at 13:26:57
79 Posted 15/01/2022 at 13:47:25
80 Posted 15/01/2022 at 13:53:39
81 Posted 15/01/2022 at 14:06:45
Does not matter if we play like Brazil in their prime, win 4 nil, I will guarentee someone will find fault with the starting 11, some will still bash the Manager, some will say we should be beating them 4 nil so what, and some will still insist on calling him fsw, even if we go on an unbeaten run and get a Wembley outing to boot.
Have no doubt some will actually be hoping for a shit fest showing, to justify getting rid of the Manager.
Others will get behind the the team, the Manager and rightly so.
Heres hoping for three points today, and a start to winning ways again.
Up the Toffees.
Add Your Comments
In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.
Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.