Head-To-Head: Norwich City
Our experts assess Saturday's key battles.
Everton welcome Norwich City to Goodison Park on Saturday looking to follow up last weekend's FA Cup thumping of QPR with an 11th league win of the campaign.
On the first day of the season, Roberto Martinez took his new side to Carrow Road and an entertaining 2-2 draw ensued.
Ahead of the latest meeting with the Canaries, we asked Everton legend Graeme Sharp and David Powles, Norwich Season ticket holder and columnist for the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, to assess the key battles that could determine who comes out on top this time around...
THE GLOVES ARE ON
Sharpy says: "Tim's been excellent since he came to the Club, but especially this season. He was suspended against Stoke and Joel Robles played in the FA Cup, so he knows it's a squad game. The signing of Joel in the summer has pushed him on even further and we've seen the best of him. He's a professional and deserves to be where he is for Everton and his country."
Powles says: "John’s a top-class operator, has become a fan favourite and has really come on at Norwich after a bit of a nervy start. He’s got that presence that many of the best goalkeepers possess - his shot-stopping is fantastic and he commands his penalty box. If he has weaknesses, it’s that he’s occasionally too slow to get down low and his kicking sometimes lets him down, but not often. Unfortunately, we’ve been all too leaky this season and I think that’s hampered his England chances. But, if it weren’t for Ruddy, some of the defeats could have been much heavier."
WATCHING THE WINGS
Sharpy says: "Since he's established himself at right-back, Seamus has been fantastic. We always knew he could go forward and create things, but this season he's been on the goalscoring trail. To have his amount of goals from full-back is unbelievable and shows what he's all about. It's not just about his defensive work, which has improved immensely over the years, but his energy getting forward and enthusiasm to get in the box is incredible. Some of his goals have been top-drawer strikes - ones you'd be proud of as a centre forward!"
Powles says: "As far as a lot of fans are concerned, Robert Snodgrass has probably been the biggest disappointment so far this season. After a cracking first year for the club, great things were expected of him once more, but it hasn’t really happened. To be fair, he’s struggled with several injuries, some of which have come about because of his desire and lack of fear, and it seems that every time he comes back into form, he gets a knock. On his day, however, he’s a determined, skilful winger with that cunning knack of being able to keep the ball close to his body and away from defenders."
THE TWO UP TOP
Sharpy says: "It's easy to forget Romelu is only 20. You talk about Ross Barkley being young and handling him carefully if he is to go to this year's World Cup, but Lukaku is exactly the same. There's a lot of pressure on him, particularly as a goalscorer. He's been outstanding since he came to Everton. There's areas where he can improve, as all 20-year-olds can, but when he faces the goal and runs at players, no centre-back in the league would like that. His threat is always there."
Powles says: "Hooper has probably been the biggest positive of the season. When you sign someone who has only played in the lower leagues and Scottish football, there’s always a bit of doubt as to whether the step up will be too much but he has quickly impressed the fans. He’s a first-class finisher and has the knack of finding that gap in the penalty area. Yet he’s not just a fox-in-the-box; he contributes a lot elsewhere on the field as well, holding up the ball and dropping back to start moves. He’s Norwich’s Wayne Rooney. His one downside is probably a lack of pace, but the best players make up for that with a quickness of the mind."
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