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The midfield has been a mixed plate for Everton during the first part of the 2011-12 season.
On the one hand you’ve got Royston Drenthe, a fantastic loaner from Real Madrid who has brought pace, flair and creativity to a relatively monochromatic midfield. After only appearing in 10 games—six as a super sub—Drenthe has established himself as a fan favorite. One only needed to see the club’s dip in quality when the Dutchman was absent to understand how much he means to this team.
With two excellent performances against Norwich City and Swansea, it would be madness for David Moyes to keep him out of the side. With the incoming services of Landon Donovan in the new year, a midfield featuring Drenthe and Donovan on the wings is a salivating thought.
On the other hand, you’ve got Diniyar Bilyaltdinov, a player whose time on the field has single-handedly kept Everton’s midfield from a higher grade. He initially felt hard done to when he wasn’t getting appearances, and then did little to earn himself more once Drenthe returned from injury. The Russian has showed little invention, poor distribution and inaccuracy toward goal. Moyes should make selling Bilyaletdinov a priority come January.
Somewhere in the middle of this spectrum lies Leon Osman, Marouane Fellaini, Tim Cahill and Jack Rodwell. Osman headlines this bunch with three goals, tied for a team high. His performance against Swansea should only solidify his starting job.
After inking a respectable extension, Fellaini has looked to earn that money by turning in a handful of solid performances. Often a fixture in the center of midfield, the afro-clad Belgian is one Everton’s better passers and displays rare decision-making skills.
Cahill has struggled to find his form, still goalless after netting nine during league play last season. For whatever reason, the Australian has not gotten it done in front of goal, but his threat in the air still garners respect from every defense he plays against.
We don’t know how much longer young Rodwell will be wearing Everton blue, with Chelsea reportedly angling for a January bid. The two sides are still far apart on what they believe the center midfielder is worth, but expect Everton to squeeze every pound out of the West London club should the deal go down. Andre Villas-Boas is playing it cool.
Rodwell’s play on the field has been inconsistent, but he’s shown flashes of the potential everyone believes him to have. Most notably known for his dubious sending-off during the Merseryside derby, Rodwell has two goals to his name in nine league starts. He will only improve if given more time, and at just 20 years old, time is on his side.
With American assistance coming, as well as some predicted positive moves during the January transfer window, expect Everton’s midfield to be much better than their average first half.