Everton travel to bottom side Norwich City on Wednesday knowing they probably need to take all three points if they are to keep their hopes of playing European football next season alive.
The Toffees are currently 12th in the table after Sunday’s Merseyside derby draw, seven points behind seventh-placed Tottenham, who beat West Ham on Tuesday.
Though it wasn’t the long-awaited derby win we all craved, Everton can be quietly satisfied with the draw given the circumstances.
The lack of fans clearly impacted on the emotion of the occasion, but the Toffees stuck to their task well and successfully kept Liverpool at arm’s length, a testament to the tactical nous of Carlo Ancelotti.
The Italian insisted in his pre-game press conference that Europe remains an ambition this season, but must privately know that it would take at least five wins from their last eight games to do so.
That makes Wednesday’s trip to Carrow Road pretty much a must win.
Norwich are five points adrift at the bottom of the table and look all but certain to return to the Championship after just one season back in the top flight.
They were abject on the 3-0 home defeat to Southampton last week in their first game back after the restart. Though if you want a reason not to get ahead of ourselves it is a cursory look back at the reverse fixture.
The Canaries came away with a 2-0 victory at Goodison Park last November as Everton reached the nadir under Marco Silva.
Silva probably should have been sacked after that game but the lack of any alternatives meant he limped on for a few more weeks before things became truly untenable.
It remains Norwich’s only away league win of the season, with the Canaries picking up just two more home victories in the 17 games since.
With Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City lurking in their fixture list, Daniel Farke’s side are going to have to produce something really special if they are to avoid the drop.
Let’s hope their attempts at a great escape don’t begin here.
Everton 2-0 Norwich November 23, 2019
A truly horrendous afternoon as goals from Dennis Srbeny and Todd Cantwell gave Norwich a deserved win against a truly abject Everton side.
Southampton (H) Lost 3-0
Sheffield United (A) Lost 1-0
Tottenham (A - FA Cup) Drew 1-1 - won 3-2 on penalties
Leicester (H) Won 1-0
Wolves (A) Lost 3-0
Liverpool (H) Drew 0-0
Chelsea (A) Lost 4-0
Man Utd (H) Drew 1-1
Arsenal (A) Lost 3-2
Crystal Palace (H) Won 3-1
Carlo Ancelotti says he has no fresh injury concerns after the Liverpool game. Yerry Mina and Fabian Delph are still sidelined with muscle injuries while Djibril Sidibe is out with a foot problem.
While Everton had a defensive plan against Liverpool and stuck to it, they will certainly be more expansive against Norwich. That could lead to a more open game, but if the Toffees are to make a late dash for the European spots then it is going to have to be done by being positive, particularly against opposition in the lower reaches of the table.