Everton-Norwich City Preview
LONDON (SE) - Returning to Premier League football could be a distraction for Everton on Saturday when they travel to Carrow Road to face a goal-shy Norwich City side that have not played in a fortnight.
Everton conceded a late equaliser in last Saturday's 2-2 draw with League One side Oldham in the FA Cup, necessitating a replay at Goodison Park on Tuesday with a spot in the quarter-finals on the line.
That creates selection questions for Toffees boss David Moyes, who put out a strong side last weekend that included most of his stalwarts.
Everton sit in sixth place in the Premier League on 42 points. Moyes, meanwhile, has been the subject of rumours that he will take over at Arsenal this summer should Arsene Wenger step down.
The Toffees fell 2-0 at leaders Manchester United in their last league fixture on Nov. 10, but captain Phil Neville believes that the side will be focused this weekend despite the upcoming FA Cup clash.
"We're chasing a European place," Neville said. "We've got a massive, massive carrot in front of us in terms of the next two months, we've got 12 games in the league left and we want to finish in European football."
Everton are unbeaten in their last nine meetings with Norwich City, but all three since the Canaries rejoined the top flight last season have ended in draws.
Sebastien Bassong's 90th-minute equalizer salvaged a point for the Canaries at Goodison Park in a 1-1 draw Nov. 24. The Toffees played without a suspended Marouane Fellaini.
"We went there last year and they gave us a really tough game over the Easter period," Neville said. "If you remember the game at Goodison, they got a well-deserved point."
Norwich City are mired in a nine-match winless run in the league and posted a second successive scoreless draw in their last match against Fulham on Feb. 9. The Canaries had last weekend off after already being knocked out of the FA Cup.
Boss Chris Hughton took his side to Dubai for four days with the extra time off. Wesley Hoolahan has the lone strike for the Canaries over their last five fixtures.
"We need to make sure we have a goal threat on Saturday," Hughton told Norwich City's official Twitter account. "We need to be more creative in the final third and take our chances."
Joint top scorer Grant Holt will return for the Canaries after missing the Fulham match with a back problem. Anthony Pilkington is doubtful with a hamstring problem.
Hughton also has the option of giving Kei Kamara his first Premier League start. Kamara made his club debut against the Cottagers after joining on loan from Sporting Kansas City from the United States-based MLS.
The Canaries are in 14th place in the table on 29 points - six above the drop. Norwich and Queens Park Rangers are the only Premier League teams without a five-goal scorer.
"We're a team who has to scrap and fight for every point we get," Hughton said. "That'll be no different in our last set of games."