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When Mikel Arteta signed on loan from Real Sociedad last year, the frustration at the loss of Thomas Gravesen — not to mention the fear at what would happen the Everton midfield because of it — was still dominating the thoughts of Everton fans.
Few believed that a low-profile Spaniard who had apparently failed to cut it during his first spell in British football at Rangers in the Scottish Premier League would be able to fill the mercurial Dane's white boots.
A season and a half later and Arteta had emerged as, head and shoulders, the best player in the Everton squad and it is no surprise that he has been voted overwhelmingly as ToffeeWe readers' player of the season.
Duncan Ferguson somehow polled second — surely some sentiment or piss-taking there! — with Phil Neville in third. Perhaps surprisingly, James Beattie polled fifth despite finishing as the team's top goalscorer.
With the end of Mikel Arteta's season disrupted by injury, it was Leon Osman, who has had an impressive season overall, who stepped into the breach as the source of flair in the Everton ranks.
It was a difficult month for the Blues as they slipped out of the top half of the table, but Osman was fairly consistent throughout and deservedly takes the PotM accolade for April.
Unfortunately, the specific voting data was lost due to an error by the Webmaster!
Mikel Arteta used the month of March to cement his reputation as Everton's most creative and indispensible player with some terrific performances as the Blues showed signs that a late charge for the UEFA Cup places was on the cards.
The Spaniard picked up another ToffeeWeb PotM award with some scintillating displays and polled double the votes of the three players below him.
James McFadden was rewarded for his goalscoring efforts with the second-highest tally, just pipping strike partner James Beattie in third and Leon Osman in fourth.
Due to a technical glitch, details of this month's voting were lost. Mikel Arteta beat out James Beattie for the February crown.
Back in the summer it looked very much as though Leon Osman's Everton career was over. In the
midst of David Moyes's rebuilding efforts it seemed that the local lad from Skelmersdale was surplus to requirements and that his contract would be not be renewed. Fast forward to January and the diminutive midfielder was proving the doubters wrong and helping drive the Blues' dramatic recovery at the start of 2006.
For his goals and all-round impressive play, Osman is your player of the month for January, and by quite a considerable margin — he garnered almost half the votes cast!
James Beattie continued his run of good form and picked up the second-highest tally of votes with Tim Cahill, the Official Site's pick for PotM and another man to have
briefly found his goalscoring boots, coming a surprising third.
It's taken almost a year but James Beattie — the most expensive player in Everton's history — finally seems to have settled into life at Goodison Park. A protracted battle to gain fitness was not helped by a succession of injuries, but an extended run in the first team and an ever-improving workrate has seen his effectiveness increase several fold.
With two goals, Beattie edges out Mikel Arteta for the December MotM vote.
Last month's winner, Joseph Yobo, comes in third with 14% of the votes, while Tim Cahill features in the top five for the first time this season.
Alongside Mikel Arteta there has been one player who — one embarrassing slip on the opening day of the Premiership season aside — has been marvellously consistent and that is Joseph Yobo. Still on the right side of 26, the Nigerian has matured into dependable and athletic centre-back with
indispensable pace and a canny reading of the game. He deservedly picks up the ToffeeWeb PotM for November.
It's no surprise that Arteta was also a popular choice this month. The Spaniard was once again at the heart of the Blues' November revival and
rightly polled second with just under a third of votes cast.
And Andy van der Meyde makes the top three for the first time based on his growing influence that was matching his gradual return to full fitness until he sustained a thigh injury in early December.
There's something of a theme developing there...
For the third successive month, ToffeeWeb readers have voted Mikel Arteta as Player of the Month, this time despite him only being available for three of the five games played as he recovered from the battering he took at the hands of Dinamo Bucharest.
The Spaniard's return to Premiership action coincided with an upturn in the Blues' form, first with the heroic 1-1 draw with Chelsea and the narrow 1-0 victory at Birmingham which lifted them off the bottom of the Premiership.
Joseph Yobo, the ToffeeWeb editorial staff's choice, was rewarded for his consistency in defence with the second-highest tally of votes, and James Beattie finally makes the top five after his goalscoring performance against the Champions.
Also figuring in the voting was Andy van der Meyde with 7.7% of the votes in recognition of his contribution in the last three matches of the month.
Three league defeats, a 5-1 pummeling in Bucharest and an inconsequential 1-0 home victory in the second leg of the Uefa Cup 1st Round made this an utterly miserable month for Everton. The team's spectacular fall from grace was complete when they hit the bottom of the Premiership with just one goal scored in the Premiership up to this point.
Once again, though, it was Mikel Arteta who was the leading light for the Blues. The Spaniard remained the team's inspiration and driving force in September, and capped the month off with a terrific performance on the right wing against Bucharest before being poleaxed by Plesan.
Joseph Yobo's towering performances at the back may not have prevented many defeats but he did come a close second this month, with Phil Neville once again garnering the third-highest tally of votes.
Five matches, four defeats and elimination from the Champions League was not the start to the season that any of us expected but despite the results, none of Everton's performances were particularly poor — it was the frustrating lack of attacking threat that proved their undoing.
No surprise then that despite his usual hard work up front, Marcus Bent polled outside the top three for the month of August. But Phil Neville made a positive impact with some solid displays in the holding role and Nigel Martyn was his usually impressive self and they garnered the third and second-highest vote tally.
Mikel Arteta was deservedly voted ToffeeWeb Player of the Month, not just because his wonderful free kick against Villarreal but also because he was the Blues' driving force in those first five games.
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* Everton deducted 10 points for PSR breachView full table