Everton vs. Norwich City: 6 Things We Learned
Gareth Barry sent the Toffees on their way with a rasping long-range effort on 23 minutes. Kevin Mirallas then doubled the advantage on 59 minutes with a classy free-kick, effectively ending the contest.
Roberto Martinez will be happy with the points but will feel his side should have won by a far greater margin, given their supremacy.
Here's a look at six Everton-related talking points to emerge from this game.
Most Creative Performance of the Season
Statistically, this was Everton's most creative performance of the season.
The Toffees fashioned out 20 chances, beating their previous high of 17 recorded in the home game with Stoke.
Everton haven't created more opportunities in a Premier League game since last season's home match with West Ham.
Impressively, nine of the Toffees' starting XI (excluding Tim Howard and Phil Jagielka) contributed to this total in an open, attacking display. Kevin Mirallas led the way, serving up five of the 20 chances himself.
Uncharacteristically Wayward Shooting
While the chances were flowing, Everton didn't capitalise on this feast of creativity.
Before this match, the Toffees could boast the Premier League's second-best shooting accuracy, with 50 percent of their shots finding the target.
In this match, however, only five of 23 shots tested the goalkeeper—a huge dip in production.
As with the creativity, it was a fairly varied list of contributors.
Nine different Everton players registered a shot, with Mirallas the most erratic of all. The Belgium international missed with five of his six shots, scoring the one time he hit the target.
Norwich Not Helping Themselves
A large factor in Everton's commanding display was Norwich's slightly baffling approach, which almost invited the Toffees to dominate.
Chris Hughton deployed a 4-4-2 and appeared content to leave both strikers upfield, which allowed far more time for the likes of Gareth Barry and Steven Pienaar to operate in.
Both players were heavily involved in the Toffees' buildup play, as the midfield interchanged and pulled Norwich around, continually creating space.
A more compact, defensive setup would have restricted the Toffees far better and prevented such a deluge of chances.
A Masterclass from Gareth Barry
Along with Pienaar, Barry was arguably the Toffees' leading performer, putting on a vintage display in front of the watching Roy Hodgson.
He grabbed the crucial opening goal, added two more chances and was typically prominent in the passing game.
He showcased his impressive range of passing and his ability to enforce a brisk, urgent tempo. Off the ball, he persistently hounded and pressed Norwich, causing several turnovers.
With John Stones beginning to feature, there's a growing English flavour to Everton's current lineup. Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Leon Osman were also watched by Hodgson, although Ross Barkley missed out through injury.
This should attract the England manager to see far more of Everton, which can only boost Barry's chances of an overdue international recall.
Three at the Back Did Not Work
Aside from a lack of cutting edge, the only other slightly negative aspect was Everton's switch to a back three.
This change in shape followed John Heitinga's introduction on 69 minutes.
Despite the fact Everton's full-backs had been camped in their opponent's final third—leaving the hosts with just two back for most of the game—a shift to three centre-backs did not work.
Norwich had their best spell during the closing stages, hitting the post and recording seven of their 12 shots during this brief 21-minute period.
Three at the back was Martinez's favoured approach at Wigan but, aside from in preseason and during a few closing stages, the Catalan hasn't used it at Everton.
Stones' emergence could be the reason for a more prolonged experiment here, as it would enable him (or Antolin Alcaraz) to remain involved upon Sylvain Distin's return.
However, these 21-minutes were not a persuasive argument for its arrival.
The Future Is Bright
Back in fourth place, at least until Liverpool play, the Toffees secured another vital three points.
The win takes them to 41 points from 21 games, which is Everton's highest total after 21 games of any Premier League season—emphasising Martinez's impressive work to date.
Away from Goodison Park, there were further encouraging signs for the Toffees' future. Martinez has instructed an exodus of loan moves from Everton's academy, and eight youth-team players were involved in competitive action throughout the country.
This will only accelerate their development and boost their chances of playing Premier League football in future.
Confirmation of Aiden McGeady's signing completed another positive day for Evertonians—a familiar sensation under Martinez's charge.
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