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Saturday 1 October 2016

Jagielka hails solidity of new boy Williams

Everton's Ashley Williams. Photo: Ed Sykes/Reuters
Everton's Ashley Williams. Photo: Ed Sykes/Reuters

Everton captain Phil Jagielka admits the arrival of Ashley Williams has made his job easier and has helped restore some much-needed solidity to their defence.

The Wales skipper made his first Premier League start since his summer move from Swansea in the 1-0 victory over Stoke, securing back-to-back-clean sheets after playing in the EFL Cup win over League Two in midweek.

It is still early days but the 32-year-old has brought an assuredness to a backline which conceded 55 goals last season under Roberto Martinez, 30 of which came at home, as they threw away leads with alarming regularity.

"He has only played two games but on paper two clean sheets," said Jagielka.

"It is nice to have another voice out there. We are quite a quiet team.

"He captains his country, he captained his previous team so it is nice to have players on the pitch who aren't scared to help their team-mates out.

"It makes your own job easier.

"Ash has played in a lot of divisions, played a lot of games and the experience and composure he has brought in the last couple of games puts us in good stead."

Williams has played only 99 minutes of the season so far so he cannot entirely take credit for Everton's best start to a campaign since 2006, with seven points from a possible nine.

Manager Ronald Koeman is intent on making his new side more resilient and that was evident in the win over Stoke, where Shay Given's own goal came via Leighton Baines' penalty, a post and the back of the goalkeeper's head.

"I think we could have had more goals and we've ridden our luck a couple of times," he said.

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