It’s amazing what difference a few weeks can make in football. At the beginning of October, Norwich City were tickled and tortured into a 4-1 submission at Chelsea and departed with their conquerors four points clear at the top of the Premier League, while the Canaries themselves were mired in the drop-zone without a win all season.
Since then they’ve not been the only departure from Stamford Bridge. Roberto Di Matteo was smothered with a plastic bag and bundled into the boot of a black Audi after re-hashing that lead into a four-point deficit, yet meanwhile, Norwich are attempting to turn around their season in much more dignified circumstances.
After shedding nine goals across two defeats to Liverpool and Chelsea, Chris Hughton’s side have upped it a few gears and are now into a six-game unbeaten stretch which has accounted for Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United.
The contrast in form and fortunes of two sides traditionally associated with opposing ends of the division highlights what can and can’t be achieved by getting yourself into the groove and it is pockets of positive results like this that Norwich need to prolong if they are to consolidate their place in the division.
Certainly against Arsenal and United it was a case of back to the basic virtues of hassling, harrying and making life hard work for their more illustrious opponents at either end of the pitch and another dose of that will be required if they are to take anything away from a meeting with Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the annual budget of a Mongolian subsistence farmer, David Moyes’ side could once again find themselves in the top four by the end of the season but in truth, it’s been a bit of a curate’s egg of a season for Everton – good in parts.
On the road, the blue half of Merseyside have won two from six and none of their last four, yet Goodison Park remains one of the least hospitable environments in the land to visit.
Everton have picked up 11 points from a possible 15 on their own patch and bwin’s 3way football betting market has them at 11/25 for another win, with Norwich at 25/4 and the draw at 16/5.
Games at Goodison are usually battles of attrition but most of the matches there this season could have gone either way.
Aside from the 1-0 win over Manchester United in the opening round of fixtures, the Toffees have needed to come from behind to beat Southampton and Sunderland, recovered from 2-0 down to draw with Liverpool and twice led but drew with Newcastle – all of which should further encourage the visitors.
If you do think that Norwich can continue their recent good run then either the win or draw on their own are great value and even the draw/Norwich double chance at 33/20 will potentially earn you a decent return.
A slight fly in the ointment for the Canaries though is that their six-game unbeaten run has only included two away days and draws with Aston Villa and Reading aren’t worth shouting too much about.
As impressively as Hughton’s side have rallied after an iffy start, I still think they’re a soft touch on the road and that can – and in my opinion will – be exploited.
You’re not going anywhere fast on the Everton win at 11/25 but there’s been over three goals in each of Everton’s last five home games so the first place to start is the hosts with over 2.5 goals at evens.
If you’d like me to be more precise, I’d say the 2-1 home win at 7/1 seems a good option given that Everton don’t score many but also keep conceding.
It’s also worth throwing both teams to score on your accumulator at 18/25 and I reckon I’ll be adding Everton to score in both halves at 21/20.
You may or may not have noticed Everton have gone behind in seven of their last eight games – the only anomaly being last week, when they led then lost to Reading – so if you want to flog that horse to death then Norwich are 5/2 to open the scoring or 31/10 to score the first goal of the first half.
In my eyes, the size of this will be a close first half with Everton eventually nicking it and that opens up my top tipple for the tussle – the half-time draw followed by an Everton win at 7/2.
Punters registering with bwin can claim a free £20 bet and placing this on the Toffees to prevail after a drawn first half would return £90 if successful.