Ashley Williams

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Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Swansea City

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  • Everton leads all-time 15W-9D-3L
  • BUT Swans unbeaten in 7 vs. Toffees
  • Toffees go ninth with win
  • Swans four back of safety

Everton hopes its up-turn in form can end three seasons of futility against visiting Swansea City when the two sides meet at Goodison Park on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Gylfi Sigurdsson gets a chance to face his former club for the first time, while longtime Swans man Ashley Williams may also feature for Sam Allardyce.

Swansea has no time to focus on the past, as Paul Clement‘s men sit deep in the drop zone. The last place Swans are four points shy of safety.

What they’re saying

Everton’s Ashley Williams on facing his former club (again)“The game is a little bit more important to me, I would be lying I said it wasn’t. You always want to play against your old teams and it’s a fixture you always look for.  I have been looking forward to this one and it will be nice to see old faces and old friends. It is a game we want to win and to keep a clean sheet in, especially at home, in order to keep our momentum going.”

Swansea City’s Roque Mesa on the match“This is a massive game for us. We need to pick up points because we are bottom and we need to improve our position. Everton have a new manager and their players have done very well under him – you can see their confidence has grown since he joined. But we did well against West Brom and picked up three points, which was very important. Then we faced Manchester City and they proved too good for us. They are the best team in the league, and unfortunately, we couldn’t match them on the night.”

Prediction

Swans need to move past that Man City loss and build on a 1-0 win over West Brom a few days previous. That may not be possible at Goodison, and the Welsh side would be thrilled to escape with a draw. It seems unlikely. Everton 2-1.

Premier League Preview: Swansea City vs. Everton

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  • Sides drew 1-1 at Goodison on Nov. 19
  • Toffees haven’t lost PL match at Swans
  • Everton leads all-time 15W-9D-2L

Everton center back Ashley Williams makes his return to Swansea City with his longtime club on the precipice of a fall into England’s second tier (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Williams made 352 appearances for Swansea before the Welsh side sold him this summer. Swans have battled the drop under the guidance of three managers, and sit two points behind Hull City and six back of Crystal Palace with three matches to play.

As for Everton, it’s plans of making the Top Four race uncomfortable for the PL’s powers had taken a hit in recent weeks. It’s almost certain Ronald Koeman‘s men will finish in 7th. The Toffees announced Friday that they’ve signed Seamus Coleman to a contract extension.

What they’re saying

Leighton Baines on visiting Swansea“Swansea are a side who play good football but they are fighting for their lives at the moment so we expect a good atmosphere, a charged-up Swansea side and we have to be prepared to match that. The new manager has come in and done well. He’s changed things up a little bit in the starting XI and they seem to have responded to that. It’s going to be a good test for us but it’s a game we know we’re capable of winning.”

Swans’ Gylfi Sigurdsson on battling the drop“If anything, you must thrive on that pressure and turn it into a positive. You are not in football to play without anything at stake, so we must use the pressure of what is riding on these games and turn that into performances and points. When you lose four or five games against the teams around you then it obviously affects your confidence, but we reacted well to that and the performances and results against Stoke and Manchester United have certainly restored our confidence.”

Prediction

Everton has been shut out in consecutive matches and it’s hard to think Romelu Lukaku and company will be kept off the sheet a third time. Swansea’s hopes take a hit with a 3-1 loss.

WATCH: Everton holds off manic Arsenal with goal mouth clearances

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Everton’s hot run to start the season had significantly cooled. Turns out it took a red-hot opponent to reinvigorate the Toffees.

And it went down to the wire, too.

[ RECAP: Everton 2-1 Arsenal ]

Everton defender Ashley Williams saw an early shot deflect off his leg and into the goal before Seamus Coleman equalized, setting the stage for Williams to head home a winner that ended Arsenal’s unbeaten Premier League run at 14 games.

“It’s nice to get my first goal for Everton. I was disappointed with their goal, so it’s nice to make up for it in the end. … I should’ve done better on that. I was disappointed, and was desperate to get one at the other end.

“This was about trying to put things right”

Williams’ 86th minute goal wasn’t quite enough, as Coleman and Leighton Baines made thrilling stoppage time blocks to seal the win (See above).

As for the goal, check it here:

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Everton 2-1 Arsenal: Toffees end Gunners 14-match unbeaten run

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  • Sanchez scores free kick
  • Coleman levels by half
  • Williams heads Barkley corner home
  • Jagielka sent off late

Ashley Williams‘ 86th minute header completed an Everton comeback, as the Toffees bested Arsenal 2-1 on Tuesday at Goodison Park.

Seamus Coleman also scored for Everton, who moved 7th with 23 points. Arsenal remains in second with 34 points, and received its goal via Alexis Sanchez.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The first half was pretty one-sided, though the visitors needed a bit of luck to open the scoring. Alexis Sanchez’s free kick went through Ashley Williams‘ legs — why were his leg spread so wide?!? — catching one to redirect past Maarten Stekelenberg and give the Gunners are a deserved 1-0 lead.

But Seamus Coleman nodded a Leighton Baines cross behind Petr Cech to level it up just before the break. Baines sent a terrific right-footed (!!!) cross in between Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal, and Coleman rose to score it.

The fierce play carried over into the tunnel, as several players had to be divided at the break.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Francis Coquelin tripped Baines dribbling through the heart of the Arsenal defense, setting the defender up for a free kick from just outside the arc. Ross Barkley cranked a shot off leaping wall member Gabriel Paulista.

The second half had an almost breakneck pace at times, and Romelu Lukaku brought danger when he drove around the left end only to hit his shot off the outside of the goal.

Olivier Giroud and Alex Iwobi entered for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott, but the match looked largely the same.

Everton, in turn, gave a debut to teenager Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who came on for Enner Valencia with 11 minutes to play.

Cech made a fine save off Phil Jagielka corner, but it earned another and that’s when Williams struck. The ex-Swans man made amends for the early deflection, and the Gunners were down.

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Everton sign Ashley Williams from Swansea City for $13 million

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Everton have signed Ashley Williams from Swansea City for a fee believed to be around $13 million.

[ MORE: Every PL season preview ] 

Following John Stones’ $65 million transfer to Manchester City on Tuesday, the Toffees have replaced him with Swansea and Wales’ captain.

Williams, 31, has been at Swansea for the last eight years and has been pivotal in their journey from the third-tier to becoming an established Premier League club who won the League Cup in 2012 and also reached the Europa League knockout stages in 2013-14. The Swans do have Mike Van der Hoorn and Federico Fernandez at center back but the loss of Williams is a huge one.

[ MORE: Donovan reveals role at Swansea ]

The bruising center back had been linked with moves to both Liverpool and Arsenal in the past but told Everton’s he’s delighted to link up with Ronald Koeman at Goodison Park.

“Everton is a great club with an unbelievable manager – a world legend in football – and I believe the club is going in the right direction. This is something I wanted to be a part of,” Williams said. “I look forward to seeing what the manager’s plans are for me and the team. He’s been one of the greatest centre-halves to ever play the game, so I look forward to learning from him and seeing what he can teach me.”

Koeman will likely not stop his summer spending there as Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie is expected to join for a fee in excess of $35 million, while Sunderland’s center back Lamine Kone is also reported to be closing in on a $25 million move to Goodison.

The future of Romelu Lukaku remains unclear, which will worry Evertonians as Chelsea continue to be linked with the big Belgian striker, but at least Koeman is not reinvesting in his squad ahead of their season opener against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBC Sports).