I think it is very clear we are starting to miss him, and which team wouldn't?
We have proved we can do well in his absence, Man U being the prime example.
However him and Gerrard are our two best players, any team in the world would miss their two best players, especially when they are trying to play to the level needed to win the prem.
Look at the Mancs, they looked half the team without Ronaldo and that is why they picked some bad results early on, and were reliant on a few very questionable refereeing decisions in a few other games.
Staying at the top of the table without Fernando and without Keane firing on many cylinders is a fantastic achievement. I feel though if we want to stay with the pace going into next year then we will need him back and doing what he does best.