The Blues recorded a 2-0 over The Canaries at Goodison thanks to two beautiful goals from Barry and Mirallas.
The surprising inclusion of the day for the home side was Jagielka returning to the starting line up at left centre-back, only a week after we were told that he’d be out for another 2 or 3 weeks. Alcaraz was the man to drop out and didn’t make the bench, so it seems he picked up some sort of injury that has yet to be clarified. Stones continued in defence and the only other change saw injured Ross Barkley replaced by Osman. Martinez gave us no such shocks with the formation, starting with our classic 4-2-3-1. We did end up with an attempted 3-5-2 that ended up as a 5-4-1 however, although this will be spoken about later…
Norwich boss Chris Hughton sprung a surprise of his own, going for an outright 4-4-2 which is unheard of for The Canaries away from home. Van Wolfswinkel and Hooper were played very high, however it wasn’t as attacking as it first appears, as Javier Garrido was deployed at left-midfield, whereas he’s usually accustomed to the left-back position. The final change was forced, as Ryan Bennett came in for the injured Michael Turner.
How we won
Martinez’s philosophies were very prominent in this game. Keep the ball, be patient and the time will come to break down the opposition and score the goals. The Blues dominated the ball, having 63% possession, completing just under double the amount of passes that the travellers made (444-237). This lead to again having just under double the amount of final third passes (200-102). All in all this gave us 23 shots to their 11, 17 chances coming from open play. It could be suggested that the 2-0 score line was kept down due to poor finishing, only 5 of our 23 shots were on target.
As mentioned earlier, Hughton went for the tactical reaction to Coleman scoring 4 goals in 6 games by selecting Garrido at left-midfield. This did work in a way, the Irishman had one of his most quiet games, with no successful take-ons, only creating one chance for another member of the side. He still could have scored though, blazing over when the ball dropped to his feet from a Mirallas mis-kick. However, Everton returned to their familiar attacking ways down the left. Baines and Pienaar linked up massively well, the passing combination was the highest on the park at 40. They created 4 chances between them and attempted 6 take-ons. Most importantly it was Baines that was brought down for a freekick that Mirallas duly dispatched.
As for the other goal, it was rightly Lukaku that got the assist after he made 4 chances, all from layoffs. Despite all the Everton passing and link up play, it was a long ball forward that created the opener. After a short period in the game where Evertonians were getting a bit tetchy with messing around at the back, Jagielka gave it a good old boot forward and Lukaku, as he did for the majority of the game, controlled it well, held it up and laid it off to an oncoming Barry. As Norwich didn’t seem threatened by Barry’s creativity, they sat off and allowed Barry to strike a beauty into the top right of the goal.
There are a couple of suggestions as to why we didn’t rack up the goals like we did against QPR, Fulham and Stoke. The away side set up of 4-4-2 did make it difficult for us to play out from the back, despite our strong possession figures. As you can see on the two comparison diagrams below, we made a lot more back passes in this game than we did against Southampton. Stones also made the joint most take-ons, alongside Baines, which at times gave a few jitters to Evertonians everywhere.
Everton backpasses V Norwich
Everton backpasses v Southampton
In the 3, 4 goal haul games (QPR, Fulham, Stoke) we have scored 7 of the 12 goals in the final half an hour of the game. With Everton at 2-0 and cruising at 70 minutes, Martinez decided he wanted to try out the 3-5-2, bringing on Heitinga for the more advanced midfielder Osman. Johnny moved into the central defence position with Stones and Jagielka moving a little wider and Baines and Coleman were given the freedom to roam. Unfortunately for Martinez, while we didn’t concede, the players didn’t accustom too well to the new formation and this gave Norwich the impetus to go for it in the final 20. They created 5 of their 10 chances from open play in this time, brushing the side netting from Bradley Johnson and hitting the post from a header from their key man, Robert Snodgrass. As the game went toward the end we reverted to a 5-4-1. This could be the only slight worry for a strong Everton team under Martinez at the minute.
Everyone knew that we’d dominate the game through possession and better quality players, it was just whether the game would be another QPR or another Sunderland. We came through it though and need to continue that home form for the rest of the season. Next up is a West Brom under their new manager Pepe Mel.