Everton v Norwich: Canaries can add to Toffees' woes

With Everton beset by injury, Norwich look a decent price to break their Premier League duck on Saturday, says Andy Schooler...

Rafa Bentiez's honeymoon period is very much over following back-to-back defeats this week.

We all wondered how Everton fans would react once, as was inevitable, they hit the skids. We may be about to find out.

lack of squad depth has been exposed by first Aston Villa and then QPR.

Injury problems for Everton

Losing Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison takes a lot of goal threat out of the team, while for all his critics, Jordan Pickford is a considerably better goalkeeper than Asmir Begovic these days.

All three miss out again here, as will Fabian Delph, while Seamus Coleman is another doubt. Fellow full-back Lucas Digne and Andres Gomes both limped off in midweek too.

And that's before mentioning the fact that the Toffees' most talented player, James Rodriguez, left the club this week, ending fans' hopes that the Colombian could be reintegrated into the squad.

The more positive Evertonian will point out that it's 'only Norwich' next but many will doubtless be dreading the arrival of the Premier League's bottom club with their own side in a bit of a state right now.

It's not that hard to envisage to see the hosts falling behind and the atmosphere turning somewhat sour.

Can Norwich capitalise?

Of course, the question really is are Norwich good enough to take advantage of the home side's problems?

It's not difficult to say they aren't given the Canaries have lost their opening five league games and scored only twice in the process.

Watford certainly pulled them apart last weekend when defensive issues were very much evident.

Yet with Salomon Rondon again likely to lead the line for the hosts - he's struggled in his two starts so far - Norwich won't be as worried about this trip as they would have been had Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison been facing them.

Rafael Benitez 21-22 1280.jpg

Norwich will also draw heart from their last visit to Goodison just under two years ago.

On that day they also arrived on an awful run (one point taken from the previous 21 on offer) but an out-of-form Everton duly rolled over and lost 2-0. It was the Norfolk side's second win in a row at Goodison and one achieved with many of the players still at the club.

Time to lay Everton

I wouldn't be touching Everton at 1.69 to win this weekend given the problems in their camp and just feel the current circumstances could see Norwich break their duck.

They look tempting at 6.4 but perhaps the safety net of the draw-no-bet market, in which they are 4.7, makes more sense.

It's essentially a lay of the Everton win for Exchange users.

In Teemu Pukki, Norwich have a striker capable of troubling Everton's shaky rearguard - one clean sheet in seven games in all competitions - and so I'll try a small-stakes play.

Renewed focus on defence?

In terms of goals, the over/under 2.5 line is almost a 50:50 affair.

If pushed, I'd probably side with the unders - Benitez mentioned the need for a solid base after the defeat at QPR, while Norwich must have been working on tightening up after last week's performance, one which was followed by midweek loss to Liverpool in the League Cup.

However, there are bets which make more appeal in the sub-markets.

Shoot for profit with Doucoure

In terms of shots, Abdoulaye Doucoure has been notably influential in Benitez's early games at Everton.

He's the box-to-box midfielder Everton have needed for some time and he was certainly missed towards the end of last season.

Fit again now, he's been given plenty of licence to get forward and that's resulted in eight shots in five games.

Doucoure has managed 2+ shots in three of those five, yet that option is 17/10 here with his team up against the league's leakiest defence (14 conceded so far), one which has also given up more than 17 shots per game.

With Everton needing goals from other sources in the absence of key forwards, Doucoure should be pushing on, looking to get involved in the attacking third regularly.

Another option - particuarly for those looking to put a Bet Builder together - is a shot on target at 7/5 - he's landed this bet in four of five thus far.

Wait and see with 19/1 Godfrey

Finally, a bigger price to catch the eye is the 19/1 about Ben Godfrey having an assist.

He was at right-back last week at Villa and could well be again if Coleman remains out.

Norwich struggled down that side against Watford last week and Godfrey will doubtless be looking to make an impression against his former club.

Godfrey played plenty at full-back during last season and while he's not a natural attacker in the shape of Coleman or Digne, he does know how to play the role and should get chances to get forward against a side who may well find themselves on the back foot for long periods.

I don't think 19/1 does him justice, although it only looks a bet if he's lining up at full-back (or wing-back) so it doesn't make the staking plan. Just keep an eye out for the team news an hour before kick-off.

Opta fact

Everton have lost three of their last four home league games against sides starting the day bottom of the table (W1), including a defeat against Norwich in November 2019.

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