Resurgent Mirallas should be Everton's go-to man

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty ImagesWith Romelu Lukaku out, Kevin Mirallas may be slotted up top for Everton.

Looking to bounce back on home turf against Aston Villa this Saturday, Everton face a counter-attacking test similar to the one Liverpool provided on Tuesday. Somewhat hopeless at home, Villa managed a point at Anfield on their last away day and can also point to wins at Arsenal and Southampton.

While the dust settles on the carnage witnessed at Anfield, where Liverpool ruthlessly tore holes in a rearguard short on numbers and lacking in fitness, the rather forlorn search for positives begins.

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Alas, the quest for positives is swiftly countered by more bad news on the injury front, with the Liverpool Echo reporting the loss of Antolin Alcaraz to muscle fatigue. As such, the defence would effectively pick itself on Saturday, with Roberto Martinez not expecting Seamus Coleman or Sylvain Distin to recover in time.

Similar problems lurk in the final third; Romelu Lukaku is the latest addition to an overcrowded treatment table. Though the injury is "weeks rather than months", it leaves Everton without a recognised, fully fit centre forward in the meantime.

Nonetheless, while the defence seems straightforward -- if you are fit, you start -- there is a decision to be made over who replaces Lukaku. Enter Kevin Mirallas, who is the most logical option and also one of the few aforementioned positives to emerge from the derby debacle.

His performance betrayed the majority of those offered up by his team-mates. It's not often that a player has possibly their best display in a blue shirt during a 4-0 drubbing. As team-mates around him faded, Mirallas continued about his business.

Not usually known for his endeavour and work rate, Mirallas hassled and harried off the ball -- and he was easily the Blues' biggest threat on it. It is as though a light bulb moment has arrived; the occasional temperamental flares are gone to be replaced by a focused attitude.

Recently filling the central attacking midfield position, when injuries robbed Martinez of Ross Barkley and Steven Pienaar, the move coincided with goals against Norwich and West Brom.

Stevenage came next on the fixture list and, though the goalscoring run ended, another influential performance followed. Playing off the limited but industrious Steven Naismith, Mirallas was a class above throughout, with the overhead cross for John Heitinga perhaps the best example of his quality.

Now, with Lukaku joining the other forwards on the injured list, this strikes as the ideal time for Mirallas to plug another gap: centre forward. Erratic on the flanks, yet recently instrumental in the number 10 role, this could take the strong recent showings to another level.

Unshackled as the most advanced player, Mirallas impressed in this role earlier in the season against Chelsea, where he used his pace and trickery to stretch the visiting defence on that occasion.

Returning an impressive goalscoring record during his time at Olympiakos, the credentials are certainly there for filling this latest void. With the greatest respect to Naismith and Apostolos Vellios, Mirallas is the one best equipped for this task.

Boosted by the signing of Aiden McGeady, the impending comeback of Gerard Deulofeu, and the return of Barkley and Pienaar, the Toffees have the players to cope without Mirallas in the trio of midfield positions behind the lone striker.

Therefore, to facilitate this switch, Martinez need only draft in McGeady on the right flank, thereby allowing Mirallas to take up the attacking reins with Barkley playing just behind in the advanced role.

Revelling as the fulcrum of the side, especially in the recent absence of Barkley, this is the ideal opportunity for Mirallas. Often lurching from invisible to influential -- sometimes in the same half of football -- the first signs of genuine consistency are creeping through, and Everton should capitalise on that.


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