February 2011 Archives
DAVID MOYES today hailed Mikel Arteta's return to form and insisted the Spaniard can be Everton's answer to Barcelona star Andres Iniesta.
THERE was a time, not so long ago, when routine victories over teams like Sunderland at Goodison Park were habitual.
SUNDERLAND and Goodison Park don't get on. Which is a little like saying Spider-Man and the Green Goblin had issues.
The news that Jack Rodwell will be out of action for at least a month comes as a big blow for the Blues. The midfielder had one of his best performances for Everton in the game against Blackpool and seemed all set to push on and firmly establish himself in the team.
Currently, David Moyes is utilising Rodwell in an advanced role. For me the jury is still out on whether or not this is his best position, it smacks a bit too much of the 'never-going-to-drop-Arteta' policy that is perhaps the manager's biggest weakness.
Ultimately, with a bit of luck, Everton's team will be built around Rodwell and Fellaini - the Chelsea away game which together they bossed demonstrative of what they can offer. However, for the time being, it seems the first choice central midfield partnership will be the Belgian alongside Arteta, for better or worse.
Now admittedly, I am not Arteta's biggest fan. Don't get me wrong, I used to be - he was once my favourite Everton player by miles. In seasons gone by, he, along with Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar symbolised the tremendous raising of standards that marks the Moyes era. But for whatever reason, be it aging, complacency or merely an extended run of bad form, Arteta has been too poor for too long.
I have long been of the opinion that Rodwell should be given Arteta's starting role, both for the good of the team and the future of the individual. But rather than bemoaning this or attempting to quantify it with statistics, I will attempt to be more positive and suggest that Arteta ought to grab this chance to dispel any doubters such as myself and make the position his own in Rodwell's absence.
This will mean a hopefully a return to the Mikel of old; the masterful, gifted footballer who could barely play a bad pass or control the ball without dazzling the crowd. To fight the Spaniard's corner, I will suggest that his usually shambolic corners have started to improve recently -though I wouldn't say the same for his free kicks - and he seems to playing with more urgency than usual which is essential to his and Everton's game.
The return of Everton's talisman, Tim Cahill, will be a great boost for everyone - the manager, the players and of course, us fans. Hopefully, it will galvanise Arteta's performances, the good friends that they are. Frankly, Cahill could not be arriving at a better time, as I see it. Starting today, Everton's next six league fixtures are as follows:- Bolton (a), Sunderland (h), Newcastle (a) Birmingham (h), Fulham (h) and Aston Villa (h).
In recent years, I would genuinely have expected Everton to win all of these games but now I will settle for anything between ten and twelve points. Anything more will be a bonus, anything less will be criminal.
So from one hopeful Evertonian speaking to who knows how many others, today I will put my faith into the stalwarts of Moyes' tenure: Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta, and hope during this game, these two players can return to their lofty heights and Everton can finally (finally!) begin their long-awaited ascent up the league table.