We’ve already seen that Everton can win in the Premier League without the influence of their midfield protégé Ross Barkley, though with all due respect that was against Norwich at home.
However, given their upcoming fixtures, the grim news for Everton fans that Barkley will now miss up to six weeks with a broken toe takes on extra bleakness when looking at some of the Toffees’ forthcoming fixtures.
Starting with a trip to Anfield to play the Merseyside derby, Everton look certain to face their other massive top-four rival Tottenham at White Hart Lane without Barkley and quite possibly the trip to Stamford Bridge on February 22nd.
Despite flourishing under new manager Roberto Martinez, where Everton have regularly occupied fourth position, the Toffees still find their chances rated as the minnows of the other big fish at 5/1 to break into the top four.
Outside of the current top three of Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea, neighbours Liverpool remain the 8/13 faves to take the remaining Champions League berth, with Manchester United 9/4 and Tottenham 7/2.
Without Barkley, who was so instrumental in Everton’s monumental win at Old Trafford and in holding Arsenal at the Emirates, the Merseysiders’ confidence to get results in these crucial away games is bound to take a knock.
And, if Martinez’s side do lose out in any of these defining league fixtures, then their top-four price will surely hit the ceiling.
It’s tough luck on Everton who have prospered from Barkley’s exuberance and guile in the centre of the midfield and there isn’t a ready-made replacement anywhere to be found in the Goodison ranks, or indeed most ranks in the land.
No injury ever comes at ‘the right time’, but as they go, this is a terrible period of the season for Everton to lose their young star.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.