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By ESPN Staff

Stubbs praises returning Arteta after Boro win

Alan Stubbs acknowledged that the return of Mikel Arteta helped Everton get back on track.

Midfield playmaker Arteta shone in the 2-0 defeat of Middlesbrough which lifted the Toffees up to fifth in the Barclays Premier League.

And defender Stubbs said afterwards: 'There is no substitute for class - he's a really important part of the team.

'When Mikel is not playing it shows in the team.

'But it's the same in every team, when you haven't got your big name players playing you miss them.'

Everton are in UEFA Cup action on Thursday in the Ukraine against Metalist Kharkiv.

And Stubbs added on Sky Sports: 'We knew it was the start of a big week today.

'There's been a bit of a lull lately, our performances have not been to the standard we wanted and we've not been picking enough points up.

'But we dug in today and fully deserved the three points.

'We dropped off to preserve the 2-0 win and the clean sheet instead of going for a third which would have killed it.

'But the way the results have been going it was a matter of getting the win - and the clean sheet is a bonus.'

Arteta, who claimed assists for both goals, scored by Joleon Lescott and Steven Pienaar, added on Sky Sports: 'We needed to get back to winning at home and being really strong at home.

'It was a good performance and the team are showing good character - we have a lot of injured players.'

After two weeks out with an ankle injury, the Spaniard added: 'I couldn't wait to get back - we are playing so many games at the moment with a short squad and we need players back.'

Manager David Moyes added: 'Middlesbrough had a couple of chances in the first half which I'm not happy about but we made some and to tuck them away was good.

'Mikel is a really important player for us and played well today, he made a difference.

'It was a lovely ball in for the second goal and a lovely finish by Steven, very simple.

'But the clean sheet pleases sometimes more than the goals - we've been difficult to beat since I've been here but not kept as many clean sheets as we should have done.

'But that's two wins and two clean sheets this week - hopefully we'll get the same in the UEFA Cup on Thursday.

'Sometimes you start to smell change and I thought there was that smell today.'

Boro boss Gareth Southgate said: 'You lose matches for a reason and there are plenty of reasons why we've lost today.

'You can talk about missed chances but you lose as a team and we conceded goals which were poor and elements of our game weren't good enough.'

On his team's missed chances, Southgate explained: 'We have scored more goals this year than at the same stage last season.

'We are conceding too many and there are any number of reasons why that is - but today there were not enough big performances to win the game.

'We didn't do enough to get anything out of the game today - but I felt we were always in it until they got their second goal.'

The former England international defender added on Sky Sports: 'I thought it was a good day to come here.

'The atmosphere was strange and quiet and it's not normallly like that - I thought we ought to capitalise on that.'