Moyes is a loyal manager – perhaps the greatest example of his loyalty is the loyalty he demands from his players in return – but a number of his first choice names are simply not performing. Mikel Arteta’s suspension may be a blessing in disguise, since the Spaniard has looked a shell of his former self but Moyes continued to pick him, partly perhaps because there is a dearth of other options but also because of Arteta’s past success. Formerly a stylish, head-up player, Arteta’s main contribution in recent games has been to woefully mishit the majority of his free kicks and corners. Now an enforced three game absence is coming Moyes has no choice but to explore other options, and with Marouane Fellaini’s own suspension now over the Belgian is a certainty to return to the team, possibly with Jack Rodwell next to him or Cahill restored to an orthodox midfield position and two strikers employed.
Rodwell would appear a likely replacement for John Heitinga given the Dutchman’s struggles, documented here before but still no closer to being resolved. Heitinga has been strongly linked with a move as well as whispers he would prefer to play at centre-back, as he does for the Netherlands. With Rodwell and Fellaini spending much of the season so far injured Heitinga has at times been one of the only central midfield options open to Moyes, but his heavy first touch and needless fouls have put his place in the starting XI under serious threat. Given Phil Jagielka’s own shaky form – shown in a hesitant touch and haywire distribution as Sylvain Distin carries the central defence – Heitinga would ordinarily be a candidate to replace the England international but his current trend of conceding mindless free kicks would make him a liability so close to goal.
Re-enforcements are needed desperately in January but many of the players currently on the books could give their manager so much more. If Moyes is forced to sell before he can buy there are currently plenty of candidates for riddance.