As Cahill struggles Arteta is reminder of happier days for Moyes


David Moyes paused, then broke into a half-smile when asked yesterday about his team’s missing creative spark. “If you lose Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar, that would answer your question,” came the reply.

The sight of Arteta lining up against Everton for Arsenal today will be a rueful reminder of happier days when the Spanish midfielder was part of a team playing European football and knocking on top four’s door. It was only 16 months ago, Moyes recalled yesterday, that he persuaded Arteta to sign a new contract, despite interest from Manchester City, in the conviction Everton could push for the Champions League.

The lack of a top-class striker was a pivotal factor in that ambition unravelling and the problem has only grown, as evidenced by Sunday’s 1-0 defeat by a Stoke side who had Kenwyne Jones and Ricardo Fuller on their bench, while Everton toiled vainly with 19-year-old Apostolos Vellios up front.

It certainly does not help Everton’s manager that he is also without the goals of his longstanding talisman, and Arteta’s close friend, Tim Cahill. The Australian has not scored in 24 Everton outings in 2011 – some reversal of fortune for a player with a strike rate of a goal every 3.3 league outings before this year.

Cahill’s last strike came in a win at Manchester City on 20 December last year, his subsequent drought starting on his return from the Asian Cup. “He had scored nine goals for us up until Christmas last year and I do think when he went to the tournament it might have been one too much for him at that time,” said Moyes.

Cahill came home with a foot problem and has struggled for fitness since; it is to his credit that he has played on to help out a small, stretched Everton squad, though to his detriment too, as he admitted yesterday: “I suppose [after] the Asian Cup in January I think I shouldn’t have even come back to play football, I should have just left it. But when you get looked after by a manager and chairman so much, you feel the obligation to make sure you’re always available.”

The combative Cahill turned 32 on Tuesday and if Moyes described his eight years’ Goodison service as “a long, hard stint”, the Scot remains hopeful of a resurgence. “He will come back. Each season he scored between eight and ten goals, I still expect him to end up with that.”

Cahill’s fortunes contrast drastically with Robin van Persie’s scoring feats in 2011 but whatever unfolds at the Emirates today, the Australian will at least catch up with Arteta at whose wedding he was best man. Everton may have suffered for Arteta’s absence but the ‘bromance’ between the two pin-up boys of the Moyes generation has evidently not, judging by a recent photo on Cahill’s Twitter account of the pair enjoying a barbecue together.

Moyes himself parted on good terms with the playmaker, whose transfer yielded £10m. “It was the right time for Mikel. Everybody knows we needed the money. I got a call from the chairman at three o’clock on deadline day and at one minute past there Mikel was knocking on my door.”

And the Scot is not surprised to see Arteta wielding an influence on Arsenal’s midfield. Recalling how he learned to marry “Spanish technique” with a “British mentality” at Goodison, he added: “There was a period just before he got his injury where I thought he was as good as any player in the country. We paid £2.5m for Mikel, a brilliant deal for us. He became a big part of the core here that we had.”

Moyes was speaking against a sponsors’ backcloth that included Best Buy – fitting when discussing Cahill and Arteta yet, as he admitted, such deals are harder than ever given Everton’s financial constraints. “We have had a pretty good record of getting them but it is tough just now, you have to go to the Championship now with maybe six or seven million for one of their players.” Perhaps it was for this reason he used the word “heyday” when recalling the Arteta era. Still, there was at least one piece of good news, with Moyes confirming that Ross Barkley, who turned 18 on Monday, will sign a new contract next week.

Cahill: last five years

2007 – 22 games, 9 goals

2008 – 29 games, 5 goals

2009 – 48 games, 8 goals

2010 – 36 games, 16 goals

2011 – 24 games, 0 goals

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable