Monday, 23 February 2009
Forget the two dropped points against ten-man Newcastle, the loss of Mikel Arteta for the season is the biggest blow for Everton.
Even with an already extensive casualty list the presence of the Spanish magician in the heart of the Blues midfield has meant the likes of Yakubu and James Vaughan have not as missed as they might have been.
But with Arteta facing six months out I feel this is one injury Everton might not be able to cope with, he is central to everything they do.
It means now the pressure is on Tim Cahill more than ever to try and lead the line and provide the midfield spark. Moyes should wrap his feet in cotton wool, any more metatarsal injuries and Everton's season really will be in crisis.
The positives? Well it is hard to be positive after losing such an influential player but what the squad has shown this season is tremendous resilience. Whatever has been thrown at them they have dealt with and have continued to force results against the odds.
If players such as Osman, Pienaar and Fellaini can get themselves fit they are talented enough to see Everton through to the end of the campaign, while Cahill's goals of course will be crucial.
But I can't help thinking expectations will have to be re-assessed (and lowered) now the best little Spaniard we know is out till August.