Tim Cahill Exclusive
The Aussie talks goals, injuries, Arteta and Arsenal.
Tim Cahill has vowed not let talk about his lack of goals affect him as strives to help Everton enjoy a successful season.
Much has been made in recent weeks of the fact that the Aussie has not yet registered in 2011.
The 32-year-old has always been a regular source of goals for the Blues and in the first half of last season scored a remarkable nine times in 16 games.
However, that rich run of form served as a prelude to what has been a tough year for Cahill. Already fatigued, he defied sweltering heat to help his country get all the way to the final at the Asia Cup in January and has been plagued by fitness issues ever since.
Despite a series of niggling and largely unreported injuries, Cahill has always put his hand up for selection, but the fact he has completed a full 90 minutes just five times in the calendar year tells its own story.
He said: "As a footballer you’ve just got to keep playing – injured or not injured – the main thing I’ve prided myself on is to always be there.
“To always be on the pitch, to show my passion for the club and the team – probably sometimes when I shouldn’t be there – when it was probably best to take a couple of weeks off and making sure injuries go away.
"But that’s not the situation we’ve got here. We’ve got a very small squad, and as you saw last weekend against Stoke, we missed a few players and maybe this weekend we might miss someone else, but I’ll make sure I’m on the teamsheet.”
Of his lack of goals, Cahill added: "It’s not something I try and focus on too much because I’m trying to do a job for the team. You know, playing in a striking role, you’re not involved on the ball as much, you're setting up play and trying to get in the box and also fight defenders.
"I suppose once the goal goes in then they’re not going to have anything to write about, so yeah obviously I want to score, but the reality is I haven’t. I’m still trying to do the best I can for the team because, as everyone can see, we don’t have the personnel and the creativity at the moment.
“It’s has to come from somewhere and it seems to be coming from Bainesy and defenders and set plays.
“But there’s a long season left and I think, for me, I love playing football and I love playing in the Premier League. The main thing is, a few people trying to put me down isn’t going to be the end of me."
Particularly in the win over Wolves, Cahill is probably still wondering now how he failed to score, while he was also a persistent threat in the win at Bolton.
He added: "I’ve had some great chances and been unlucky from (hitting) posts and things like that and have also set up the other lads in the team.
"But you know it’s one of those things, when one goes in then they’ll find someone else to write about.
"I suppose last year with leaving for the Asia 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.
"Like I said, rightly or wrongly, it’s my choice at the end of the day to play injured or stay with the physio. I suppose there’s only three or four years for me to play football and then I can chill out and look back and say I’m happy that I put in that hard graft."
While of late Cahill has been playing largely as a striker, most of his time at Everton has been spent in midfield - and most of it alongside a player he will come up against in the opposition ranks on Saturday.
Few at Goodison were as close to Mikel Arteta as Cahill and the Aussie admits it will be strange facing him at the Emirates.
He said: "I’ve spoken to Mikel a couple of times already this week. It’s a nice touch being such close friends, but it’s what we do on the day, whatever happens on the pitch stays there. We’ll stay close mates and it’s going to be an exciting game.
"I was asking him whether he’s looking forward to it and I suppose he’s going to have mixed emotions because it’s a club that helped him progress. He’s a great guy and cares a hell of a lot about this football club. He always asks about the lads and the manager."
As for the job of getting a result on Saturday, Cahill knows the Blues face a tough task against an in-form Gunners side.
The Blues are yet to win at the Emirates – despite taking the lead on four out of their five trips there.
And Cahill said: “In the past we’ve really enjoyed the occasion, the fans have been brilliant, and we’ve broken the deadlock a few times so I suppose that can give us confidence.
“But they’re a team that’s winning games after an indifferent start and now seem to be flying. So I think we’ve got to stop them first of all from scoring goals and after that we can see what we can do.
“I think after the loss against Stoke we need to get back to winning ways, and if not then to try and get a draw, because at somewhere like the Emirates it is a massive thing to get points.
“The only thing that’s going to give this football club a lift is winning games – not only the players but the fans especially.”