Analysing Ashley Williams' match-winning display for Everton against Arsenal
It was a show of character, grit and determination, and it came just at the right time for Everton as they halted their five-match winless run with a priceless victory at home to Arsenal. They did it the hard way, having fallen behind to a deflected Alexis Sanchez free-kick, but Seamus Coleman glanced home a Leighton Baines cross right on half-time to equalise, before Ross Barkley’s corner was met by the head of Ashley Williams four minutes from time to complete the turnaround.
For match-winner Williams, it was his first goal for the Toffees in his 15th match for the club since arriving from Swansea City over the summer. The Wales captain has been a stellar addition to the Everton defence so far this campaign, and stepped unto the breach following the departure of John Stones, but this performance may be one of his most crucial for the club so far.
Before his big moment however, it was looking to be an average night for the Wales captain, as it was him who was in the wrong place at the wrong time as an Alexis Sanchez free-kick to a very kind ricochet for the visitors and eluded Maarten Stekelenburg in the Everton goal to reward the visitors with the lead after a strong start.
He also lost all three of his aerial duels in the game, all coming in the first-half. Two came in the first ten minutes as he lost out twice to Laurent Koscielny in the opposing penalty area, before Theo Walcott also had the beating of him in the air to create the visitors an opportunity on the half hour mark.
Williams however grew into the game as it wore on, and his game began to come alive when he played an excellent ball down the left-hand side for Leighton Baines to whip a cross into the box, but on this occasion it didn’t come to fruition for the hosts.
Most of Williams’ action came in the centre of his own half, and he proved a composed presence at the back, completed 72% of his passes, and winning two out of three attempted tackles. The first one came in the first-half, when he over-committed and allowed Francis Coquelin to worm away, but he did well with two tackles in the second half to thwart Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil on the edge of his own penalty box with the game deadlocked at 1-1 at the time.
His big moment however came four minutes from time, when he connecting with Ross Barkley’s out-swinging corner, the first set-piece he’d gotten onto all game, heading the ball down into the turf and up into the roof of the net beyond Petr Cech to give the hosts a priceless lead.
He then did his bit defensively in a frantic finale as Everton clung onto their lead for the last four minutes plus stoppage time. He made a total of five clearances inside his own area in the match, including two in injury time, as Everton hung onto their crucial victory.
It may not have been the most stellar of performances for a centre-half, but he grew into the game to banish his misfortune in the lead up to Arsenal’s goal, putting in a composed defensive display, particularly in the final few minutes when Everton needed a cool head at the back the most. His goal capped off his performance, and he was in the right place at the crucial time on this occasion to net his first goal for the club, and seal a vital three points to ease the pressure on manager Ronald Koeman.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Tin Nhanh Bóng ?á .
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