Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Norwich City and Everton will be eager to shake off their “draw specialists” tag when they meet at Carrow Road on Saturday – for very different reasons.
The two clubs have drawn a combined total of 23 Premier League games this season, with Everton’s 12 draws the joint highest tally in the top flight along with Stoke City, and the Canaries finishing 11 fixtures all square, including four of their last five matches.
Chris Hughton’s men are seeking to end a run of nine league games without a win to try to extend the six-point gap between themselves and the bottom three in the table, while David Moyes’ team will be anxious not to lose touch with the Champions League qualifying places after just one win in five league matches has left them six points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham.
Recent history favours another draw, however, with the last three meetings between Norwich and Everton ending with honours even.
Defender Sébastien Bassong’s last-minute equaliser earned City a point from a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park in November, the same scoreline as the corresponding Premier League game in 2011-12, while the Carrow Road fixture on Easter Saturday last season ended 2-2.
While Everton are the bookmakers’ favourites to win on Saturday, betting expert Peter Sharkey, of Betrescue, said he could see why the draw held plenty of appeal.
He said: “I think the fact that Everton are favoured to win – they’re 11/10 with Ladbrokes – has more to do with the fact that Norwich haven’t won any of their last nine league fixtures, a record which explains the home side’s 11/4 price with BetVictor.com.
“However, backing the draw makes sense, partly because of Norwich’s awkward predicament – I would argue they’re at least 10 points from safety – and partly because of Everton’s inability to win matches they’ve dominated.
“Bookies appear to agree as bet365 offer 10/3 against a score draw and that’s quite short, although the ‘match draw’ price of 9/4 is about normal for a Premier League fixture.”
In the correct score betting market, a 1-1 draw attracts the shortest odds, ranging from 5/1 to 7/1.
City have already chalked up as many draws as in the whole of last season, but are not in danger of threatening their biggest number of draws in a single campaign – a joint Football League record of 23 in 1978-79 – and are still some way short of their highest Premier League tally of 17 in 1993-94.
But while admitting that his players need to start winning again – the Canaries’ last Premier League victory came against Wigan nearly 10 weeks ago – Hughton was grateful for small mercies after they bagged another point from the goalless draw at home to Fulham.
“It is a point and if you can’t win these games, you’ve certainly got to make sure you don’t lose them,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Everton and Norwich striker and Goodison manager Joe Royle said this week that a Champions League place was still within reach for Moyes and his team, despite their failure to convert one point into three on occasions.
“There have already been too many draws to seriously contest the Premier League,” said Royle. “But you start out every year wanting the best realistically – and there’s still a very live chance of fourth place and still a near certainty, in my eyes, of the top six.”