Everton 0-1 Stoke City – the nadir, or the tip of the iceberg?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Marouane Fellaini of Everton gestures to Referee Lee Mason during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Stoke City at Goodison Park on December 4, 2011 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

What is there to say when your side cannot even muster a single shot on target, at home, to a Stoke side who have lost every game after a Europa League group game this season?

Not a lot I guess, but I’ll do my best.

Everton’s alarming lack of creative, attacking force was once again exposed against a physical Stoke team who deserved to win, but didn’t have to do much to do so.

They effectively had four centre-backs across the back four so our default attacking threat of late – the long ball – played into their hands.

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov showed early promise as he looked to build on a steady performance at Bolton last week but once he faded to his usual level there was precious little else to get excited about.

We fell asleep for the corner that led to their goal but other than that they offered very little. This was a game there for the taking, but there was just nothing to get excited about at the other end.

Tim Cahill cannot seem to buy a goal at the minute and Moyes is continuing to send him out in the hope rather than expectation that he can somehow find that piece of inspiration he always used to.

But the Aussie, who turns 32 this week, looks a fading force and while we shouldn’t write him off, Moyes has to look at other options.

However, sadly, depressingly, there isn’t much else. Saha was injured again, the Stracq looked embarrassing slow and out of his depth while Velios was well marshalled by Ryan Shawcross.

Though referee Lee Mason’s abject failure to punish the Stoke defenders for their overly-aggressive tactics in the box meant they could get away with anything. There was one period of play where Mason ignored Shawcross putting Velios in a headlock from a corner before blowing for a foul by Marouane Fellaini a few minutes later for a ‘push’. His inconsistencies were ridiculous and infuriating in equal measure.

But that shouldn’t be seen as an excuse for Everton’s failings, they were dire and unless money is given to Moyes in January then the club is in real trouble. I know have said this before and we have pulled clear but the current side is so stale and lacklustre relegation is a distinct possibility.

It sounds silly to say it but I only feel the ineptness of other teams in the division will keep us safe – should the likes of Bolton, Wigan and Blackburn put a run together, I cannot see us responding in kind.

The fact that Yakubu scored four for Rovers on Saturday made the following’s days struggles in front of goal all the more painful, but it needs to be said that the Yak has a track record of flying in his first season at a club before seemingly getting bored and tailing off – ask fans of Pompey and Boro and I’m sure they will agree with me. He had long decided his time was up at Everton.

Landon Donovan would be a fantastic addition, even on-loan, and would give everyone a lift. But some sort of target man is needed too – maybe now is the time to gamble on another lower league striker? Either way, there would be uproar if the majority of the Arteta money is swallowed up, the club simply has to give it to Moyes.

I do think that we are not far away from having a decent side, if we can find a gem of a striker somewhere and throw Donovan, Drenthe, Rodwell and Fellaini into the mix then there is promise.

However, we are not that far away from having a very poor side either and a few key injuries to our already painfully thin squad and it could be a long winter ahead.

To add to the festive cheer we can all watch Mikel Arteta close at hand once more at the Emirates on Saturday and remember what we used to have - anything to avoid the depressing reality of the present.

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