At this point in Everton's dull and disappointing season, there is more to talk about off then pitch as opposed to on it. Roberto Martinez has been sacked, speculation about his replacement is rife and many supporters are already looking forward to a new season and a fresh slate.
Fans are rightfully angry with the turn this season has taken and you will be hard pressed to find anyone, fan or pundit, that will disagree with the sacking of Martinez there are some aspects of this match that should be celebrated and surrounded with positivity. First, this will be the last match in Everton blue for goalkeeper Tim Howard. While his last two season have been less than stellar, Howard has been a rock in net for Everton for ten years and has shown time and time again that he his nothing short of a true Evertonian. This will also likely be the last match for midfielders Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar. Both players may be well beyond their prime, but they were excellent ambassadors for the club and all three departing players should be celebrated for their contribution to Everton.
Norwich are headed back to the Championship having yet again been unable to separate themselves from the bottom of the Premier League table. After Sunderland's midweek defeat of Everton, Newcastle and Norwich sealed their fate and will be going down next year. Former Everton man Steven Naismith joined Norwich in the winter in search of more playing time and unfortunately found himself unable to have much of an impact on the squad. He finished his season with Norwich having tallied only one goal and one assist.
Dieumerci Mbokani and Nathan Redmond will be the offensive threats that Everton will have to contend with this week. The duo have accounted for 13 goals, far and away the best on the club, and Everton's shambolic defense will have to keep tabs on them.
Tony Hibbert was the most recent victim of the injury bug, leaving the club with no healthy right back on the entire roster. Any hopes of seeing Hibbert finally score his first goal will yet again be dashed. Phil Jagielka and Seamus Coleman continue to be out and may be held out of the match as they attempt to get healthy for next season's campaign.
The Final Word
Saying this season has been a disappointment would be an understatement. However, Martinez is gone, a new and hopefully better regime will be in charge next season and the hopes of a sizable transfer kitty lend us optimism. The goal of this match should be to see off a trio of fantastic club ambassadors with a win. The player's may have given up on playing for the manager, but they should at least put forth an effort for their teammates and send them off in style.
Predicted Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Funes Mori, Stones, Pennington, Barry, McCarthy, Pienaar, Osman, Miallas, Lukaku