The Everton backline was dented significantly this Thursday when physiotherapy reports confirmed defender Joseph Yobo will play no further part in the Toffees campaign. In a deteriorating defence that has seen 27 goals past them in the opening 15 games of the season, the reliable Nigerian’s injury has thrown salt onto the open wound. Phil Jagielka is still struggling with his plagued knee injury ridden by a cartilage tear. With both first choice centre-backs joining the notorious and growing injury lists, Moyes must reshuffle the pack to compensate for this loss. Sylvain Distin is an accomplished centre half and encompasses a wealth of experience as well as the physical traits required for a leading defender. It is his accomplice in the backline that causes Everton problems, there is no doubt the Toffee’s have adapted to the injuries in previous seasons with a number of versatile individuals. However an injury list that cuts this deep is going to leave baron land in any squad.
Moyes does have a variety of options to his disposal – Seamus Coleman provided an endearing performance as Yobo’s replacement last weekend, John Heitinga and Jack Rodwell can also adopt roles at the back. The problem for the Toffee’s remains in their use of these individuals had they opt for the latter option of relinquishing a centre midfielder into the back, the space left here would need to be filled. With no Phil Neville or Mikel Arteta -Everton’s injury woes are of great concern, the last thing on Moyes’s Christmas list is a trip to Stamford Bridge to face a side yet to drop a point at home.
Let alone the obvious injury problems that will necessitate replacement to survive in the Premier League, another issue the club need to overcome is their financial debt. The club is shadowed by over looming arrears and now demanding a world class centre back to fill the spot of the wounded the worry is how much money the club will provide for Moyes’s disposal. There are centre backs on the market but none that would fit the bill of a club striving for a run in the Europa League as well as survival in England’s top division.
Other clubs such as Manchester United, West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur are contending with respective defensive injuries and so defenders will be high on the priority list of the rich and prosperous Premier League teams. Thus leaving Everton to act as a scavenger on the Championship or less financially secure European teams for their prized possessions. Capable championship star Akos Buzsaky may fill the roles left behind by Arteta and Neville with his box to box attitude – the midfielder is part of an investigation into an altercation with manger Jim Magilton and is expected to be available in January. The fans may however reject a move to the Championship but after gambling on Tim Cahill from Millwall and others of the same side maybe this would suffice as a wise investment by the Scotsman.
There is no doubting the managerial expertise in Moyes and the Everton hierarchy should keep faith in the fourth longest reigning manager in the Premier League. A trip to Chelsea this weekend may see the arrival of an energetic Everton side, expected to be full of inexperience but at this same time individuals incorporating the desire to impress in front of those watching the Londoners. Attacking midfielders Frank Lampard and Tim Cahill have been quiet in front of goal this season and their midfield battle may prove the instrumental factor in the weekends encounter. Penalty fortunes between the two sides differed immensely last week as Lampard was denied and Tim Howard the hero against Jermaine Defoe, expect nerves if the situation arises on Saturday. Little comfort will be found in the strength of Chelsea’s defence but Louis Saha has an appetite in front of goal and with a slice of fortune the Merseysiders may be triumphant. The task is however of great merit and little will be expected of Moyes’s depleted squad and notably weakened XI.