The lack of depth at Everton has long been a problem. It isn't breaking any new ground to say that Everton's competitors have a distinct advantage over them when it comes to weathering injury and poor form. Right now, for example Tottenham Hotspur have just lost Sandro, and plugged in Scott Parker, and their two reserve central midfielders, Tom Huddleston and Jake Livermore would still probably start in the middle of this Everton squad.
Nowhere has this lack of depth been more apparent than the troublesome right side of midfield this season. With Osman thriving in the centre of the field and the electric Kevin Mirallas seemingly never fit, the Toffees have been lacking any semblance of an attack to balance out their lethal left side. Steven Naismith, the natural candidate to fill the role has been underwhelming to put it kindly. And that has left Victor Anichebe as the current starter.
Big Vic has certainly been in good form lately, and he's performed admirably when filling in for either Nikita Jelavic or Marouane Fellaini. The problem is that he is almost as pure a centre forward as you'll ever see, and that's not what you want in a winger.
Anichebe's strengths are apparent when he's in front of goal. He's a good physical presence, he can hold the ball up, he can turn and get his own shot, and he's an excellent instinctive header of the ball. Unfortunately he doesn't have nearly enough opportunity to do that when he plays on the wing. Shifting him to the right only serves to demonstrate what he doesn't do well. He's not a good crosser, or a particularly aware passer, and he doesn't run at players and beat them off the dribble.
It leaves the team in a quandary. If he's to be effective he needs to basically abandon his position and get in the penalty area. That makes it virtually impossible for him to fulfil his defensive responsibilities and consistently leaves the team stretched and creates impossible decisions for the defender behind him and central midfielders covering for him. But, if he maintains stricter positioning it's unclear what he brings to the game in attack. It's a recipe that, unfortunately, lends itself to failure.
Of course, it's unclear what Moyes's other options would be at this point. Playing Anichebe there rewards him with playing time he certainly deserves and also means that players like Osman or Seamus Coleman aren't pulled out of position further unbalancing the team. But, it's not a good solution. And it's just another way that lack of depth shows itself, on a weekly basis.
If this team could stay healthy they might be the favourite for fourth place, but the fact is that no team stays healthy. And when you account for injuries it's a remarkable showing that Everton is in the discussion at all.