Everton - Norwich City Preview: Will the Toffees finally have something to cheer about?

A season promising much but delivering little, with the exception of two semi-finals in the domestic cup competitions, ends with the visit of Norwich on Sunday.

Everton - Norwich City Preview: Will the Toffees finally have something to cheer about?
Everton take on Norwich at Goodison Park on Sunday 15 May at 15:00 (BST). (Image: VAVEL)

Everton will be hoping to finish a disappointing league campaign on a high as a season promising much but delivering little, ends with the visit of relegated Norwich City on Sunday.

David Unsworth and Joe Royle will take temporary charge of the Blues after the sacking of Roberto Martinez on Thursday, while Tim Howard will bid farewell to Goodison Park after a 10 year stay at the club.

Head-to-head

Everton have lost just one of their last 11 league fixtures against Norwich, but six of the last eight matches between the two sides have ended in a draw.

Norwich's last victory at Goodison Park was in September 1993 when Efan Ekoku became the first player to score four goals in a Premier League match as the Canaries won 5-1.

Everton ready for fresh start after Martinez sacking

The sacking of manager Roberto Martinez became a matter of when not if and the axe finally fell on Thursday when it was announced that Martinez had left the club with immediate effect following a three year spell in charge on Merseyside.

One win more than relegated Norwich tells the story of another campaign falling well below expectations and, regardless of the outcome on Sunday, Everton will finish in the bottom-half of the Premier League table for the second successive season.

Only the bottom four teams have recorded fewer wins than the 10 gained by the Toffees this season, but Everton have been one of the top scoring teams in the top-flight, outscoring 5th place Manchester United and 7th place Southampton.

However, even the goals have started to dry up recently, with Everton failing to score in five of their last nine games. Whilst at the other end, they have conceded 55 goals in their worst defensive campaign since finishing 17th in 2003/04 and 11 of those goals have come in their last four matches.

Everton will, however, be hoping to finish a disappointing season on a high and there will be four familiar faces overseeing them from the dugout. Under-21 manager and former player David Unsworth and club legend Joe Royle will be in charge on Sunday, assisted by former players Duncan Ferguson and John Ebbrell - all three having played under Royle in the mid-1990s.

David Unsworth and Joe Royle discuss tactics as they watch over a training session at Finch Farm. | Photo: Everton FC
David Unsworth and Joe Royle discuss tactics as they watch over a training session at Finch Farm. | Photo: Everton FC

The end of an era as much as a fresh start

Tim Howard will make a final appearance in goal for Everton before leaving in the summer after 10 years at the club to return home to the United States, where he will join the Colorado Rapids.

The 37-year-old's form has mirrored his team in the past two seasons with neither reaching the levels expected, but Sunday is a chance to reflect on his 10 years at Everton and the legacy that he will leave at Goodison Park.

The futures of Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman, Darron Gibson and Steven Pienaar are all uncertain as all four players are out-of-contract in the summer and this could be a final farewell if their contracts are not renewed.

There is also the prospect of further changes to the side as Unsworth elevates some of the deserved youngsters from the under-21 setup to give them a chance in the first-team. Midfielder Kieran Dowell is under consideration for a full debut, while others are in with a chance of making the squad after training with the first-team on Friday.

Whether playing or managing at Goodison for the first or final time, all those involved will want to begin this new chapter with three points.

The opposition

Alex Neil failed to keep Norwich City in the Premier League. | Photo: Getty Images
Alex Neil failed to keep Norwich City in the Premier League. | Photo: Getty Images

Norwich had their relegation status confirmed in midweek despite recording their first victory since 2 April. A 4-2 win at home to Watford proved not to be enough as Sunderland sent them down with their 3-0 win over Everton on Wednesday.

The Canaries ended a run of four successive defeats with victory over Watford, but they have lost eight of their last nine Premier League matches and failed to score in seven of them.

One player to watch is former Blue, Steven Naismith, on his return to Goodison Park following his switch from Everton to the Canaries in January. The Scot became a fan favourite for the Blues, scoring 26 goals in three-and-a-half seasons with the Toffees, but he has scored just once since moving to Carrow Road.

Team news

Seamus Coleman and Phil Jagielka could return from injury after being sidelined with hamstring injuries in recent weeks, while Norwich could be unchanged from the side that beat Watford in midweek as Timm Klose, Jonny Howson (both knee) and Alex Tettey (ankle) are all nursing injuries.