Yesterday afternoon saw Everton play out a goalless, and relatively dull, draw against Newcastle. Although the Toffees were bitterly disappointed not to have picked up another three points in their quest to secure European football next season, the mood in the dressing room after the final whistle would have been ecstatic in comparison to how the players, coaching staff, and management will be feeling this morning after it was revealed that Mikel Arteta will miss the rest of the season through injury.
Everton fans have been left wondering how a seemingly innocuous fall in the opening minutes of a match could fundamentally change the course of their season. Arteta was stretchered off in visible pain after rupturing a knee ligament and his absence from Everton's midfield was notable, with the Toffees displaying their trademark resilience and determination but sorely lacking the creative spark provided by the talented Spaniard.
The Toffees have not been shy about their hopes for this season. They are desperate to secure a European place and David Moyes has been handed the task of balancing this ambition with the club's dream of winning the FA Cup.
This task has been made far more difficult now that Arteta, who has scored seven goals in thirty-one appearances for Everton this season, has been ruled out.
If there is one positive to be taken from yesterday's match, it is that the bones in Victor Anichebe's leg remain unbroken. Anichebe was the victim of a horrific tackle from Kevin Nolan, who later apologised to the Everton player and manager.
Anichebe limped off the pitch following the incident but was extremely lucky to be walking at all after the two-footed lunge from the Newcastle player.