Why Darron Gibson's Injury Is a Major Blow to Everton
Roberto Martinez endured a frustrating end to the international break with news of a serious injury to Darron Gibson.
The Irish midfielder damaged his cruciate ligament (ACL) playing against Kazakhstan and is set to undergo surgery immediately. The initial prognosis isn't encouraging for the Toffees, with The Guardian speculating he could be out for up to nine months.
He certainly is a vital player for the Toffees, although the former Manchester United man seems one of the more under-appreciated midfielders in the Premier League—not always noticed on the field but hugely missed when absent.
The main reason for this is his flaky injury record, which masks his talent and robs him of persistent acclaim. In terms of results, the Toffees have been far better with Gibson than without him, as the statistics emphasise.
Before his arrival in January 2012, Everton had lost 10 of 20 Premier League games and were languishing in the bottom half of the table. His signing coincided with a huge upturn in form, and his side remained unbeaten in the 11 league games he played.
As WhoScored note, the Toffees have won 12 percent more matches with the Irishman starting—further highlighting his value.
Darron Gibson: Since joining in Jan 2012, Everton have won 48.5% of the 33 PL games @D_gibson4 started, compared with 36.7% of 30 without— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) October 16, 2013
His signing wasn't especially celebrated by Evertonians, but he's consistently impressed since making his debut, and most fans now consider him an integral selection.
The Irishman plays as a midfield general and tempo setter, moving the Toffees around better than anyone in the past few years. He initially formed an effective partnership with Marouane Fellaini and, when fit, was instrumental in the Toffees' impressive run to the 2012 FA Cup semifinal.
His excellent positional sense complemented Fellaini's more aggressive approach, while his ability on the ball and accurate diagonal passes kept his side moving forward.
With Fellaini pushed into attack last year, Gibson partnered Leon Osman or Phil Neville, but again had a season punctuated by injury—managing to start just 22 of 38 Premier League games.
Even when selected, a nagging thigh complaint limited his shooting and set-piece proficiency.
Martinez wisely stocked up on central midfielders during the summer, adding Gareth Barry and James McCarthy, yet Gibson's lengthy absence will still see the Toffees depleted.
I'm devastated, but would like to thank all the fans for their messages, long road ahead but I'll be back fitter and stronger! #COYB— Darron Gibson (@D_gibson4) October 16, 2013
His latest set-back had been a knee problem, which had sidelined him since August, although most envisaged him playing a prominent role once fit—especially after a strong pre-season.
Despite Martinez introducing a new style, Gibson was one of the more natural fits into a possession-based approach, which will further frustrate his manager.
The Irishman's comfortable bringing the ball out of defence, continually shifting Everton's shape as he moves between the lines.
How should Everton line up in central midfield?
Martinez is renowned for favouring a back three, but Gibson gave him a balance between his own preference and the Toffees' natural 4-4-1-1 approach—something that helped their transition during pre-season.
Sadly, 27 minutes against Manchester City will be the last time Gibson's seen in action for a considerable length of time.
Everton's No.4 has started just 33 of a potential 63 Premier League matches since joining the Toffees—matches in which his side have been more resilient, more fluent on the ball and produced far better results.
The arrival of McCarthy and Barry sparked far more excitement than Gibson's initial transfer, but both will find it tough replicating the Irishman's input.
Statistics via WhoScored?
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