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The Highs And Lows

Radio City's Alan Irwin, 1st May 2009 - 10:03

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Alan Irwin is the Voice of Everton for Liverpool's Radio City 96.7. An experienced radio journalist, Alan commentates on all of the Blues' matches and is well placed to provide insightful blogs on the progress of the team.

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The highs and lows of following Everton have been well documented in this blog throughout the course of the season.

No supporter though can claim to have suffered more than one of our players. The man who will surely be named as our player of the season. I truly believed our injury curse had finally been lifted. No Premier League team has experienced the number of serious long term casualties that Everton have.

For Phil Jagielka it is the worst possible blow imaginable. From the wonderful experience of scoring the winning penalty at Wembley to the heartache of not being able to play in the Cup final. All in the space of a week. Cruel beyond belief. Yet one that footballers know they must live with. For Phil Jagielka, read Yakubu, Mikel Arteta and Victor Anichebe. Three others who definitely won't take part in the Cup final. However, when you were as close as Jags was, the pain must obviously be more intense.

Every Evertonian inside Goodison on Saturday immediately feared the worst and it didn't take long for that fear to be confirmed. We can only wish him all the best on his long road to recovery. Can we win the Cup without him?? You bet we can!

There's real evidence to prove we can perform even minus our top players. Yakubu was injured at the end of November. Where would our goals come from was the question asked. We've subsequently lost only four times in 25 matches without him. Mikel Arteta was struck down in February at Newcastle. This time our season really was crumbling said our critics, our midfield general, our creative influence would be too big a blow to recover from. Not so, 10 games now without him and two defeats (including a rather tired one at home to Manchester City). Along the way a place in the Cup final won too.

We've coped with high profile players being absent for prolonged periods all season. Tim Cahill most notably. The Everton spirit has been enough to not only "see us through" but to move us forward and progress further as a Football Club.

Joseph Yobo is a more than capable defender in the absence of Phil Jagielka. Many have questioned his ability and defensive know how. Yet since he returned from injury we have only lost one of the six games he's started (and that was Saturday's against City!). We've not exactly been shipping goals either. David Moyes has rightly stated that these are international footballers we're dealing with here, vastly experienced players who've performed on the big stage for a considerable time. Didier Drogba can be a handful on his day for any defender but Yobo more than played his part in keeping him relatively quiet at Stamford Bridge recently. That will have given the Nigerian confidence that he can repeat that performance at Wembley come the end of May.

Onto Sunday and a tricky tie at Sunderland who are battling for survival. Their 3-0 drubbing at West Brom last week won't have done anything for their confidence and they've been on the slide of late, only winning one of their last nine. They're never easy to beat up there but we have done so by a solitary goal on each of our last three visits. It will be tight again but I'm confident we can once more record a one goal win and keep a clean sheet................sticking my neck out even further I reckon Jo could just find his first goal for us away from Goodison Park!!! (Now that is confidence for you!!)

However, I think I'd be happy for us to just return home unscathed with a clean bill of health!! Injury wise we've suffered enough!!!

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