Arsenal defender Williamson says not to write them out of the title challenge
- Credit: PA
Arsenal defender Leah Williamson insists they can’t be ruled out in the Women’s Super League title race.
The Gunners have started their season with a 6-1 win over Reading and a 9-1 thrashing of London rival’s West Ham United.
Last season’s champions, Chelsea and Manchester City, have been made favourites to finish above Arsenal in what is expected to be the most thrilling title race in WSL history.
The English International who has a goal and an assist to her name already this season told goal.com: “It’s hard to ignore what those clubs have done, but I do believe that if you look at the teams and the players we have had at Arsenal over the last couple of years we can compete with anyone, I really do believe that.
“For me, it doesn’t really change anything we will compete and challenge as we have done in the past few years.
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“There is always a slight benefit in being the underdog and I say that not from my opinion, but how everybody sees us.
“You can sort of get on with your own business without people watching or expecting too much.
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“We’re not in the Champions League so if anything we are a team on a mission,we underachieved last season.
“I wouldn’t want to play us on our day – but I am probably biased.”
In the Reading game Williamson played in a slightly more advanced role in midfield. She created three chances for her teammates - more than any other player in the league on the opening weekend.
The 23-year-old went on to talk about the Gunners new summer signings as Joe Montemurro added Swiss duo Noelle Maritz and Malin Gut as well as Australian pair Steph Catley and Lydia Williams have also joined alongside former Arsenal star Lotte Wubben-Moy.
“You saw Noelle against PSG in the Champions League and for me she was our player of the match.
“Steph is the type of player that somebody like me, being young and still trying to grow I want to be surrounded by.
“Malin - there’s talent there. I have heard Kim Little talk about how good Malin will be and if real talent can recognise that, then she must be pretty good.
“Lydia as a goalkeeper is probably one of the best characters I have ever known in football, so I can’t wait to work with her.
“In our first session she apologised for speaking too much and I said: ‘My ears are open mate, keep going!’”
Arsenal are without Champions League football this season and Williamson said: “Not having to contend with the Champions League, it’s definitely not necessarily a benefit, because you get better playing against the best teams and those games will make the best teams.
“But at the same time, you can really make it work in your favour because of the lack of congestion you have when you’re not in the Champions League.”
Arsenal are next in action in the FA Cup quarter-final against rivals Tottenham Hotspur on September, 26 following the upcoming international break.
Should they progress they will either meet Leicester City or fellow Women’s Super League giants Manchester City.
Arsenal met Tottenham Hotspur only once last season as the coronavirus pandemic brought it to a halt, however the game was one to remember, with a record crowd of 38,262 in place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Goals from Kim Little and Vivianne Miedema saw the Gunners win on that occasion 2-0.
Arsenal played Manchester City three times last season, winning two of those fixtures 1-0 at home in the league as Vivianne Miedema scored the only goal and then Joe Montemurro’s side defeated the Blues 2-1 in the Continental Cup semi-final with goals from Miedema and Danielle van de Donk.
Manchester City are current holders of the competition after winning the 2019 trophy after a 3-0 win over West Ham United thanks to goals from Kiera Walsh, Georgia Stanway and Lauren Hemp.
The Cityzens have strengthened this summer as they brought in USA World Cup winners Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis, as well as England superstar Lucy Bronze, alongside fellow England Internationals Alex Greenwood and Chloe Kelly.
Leicester City play in the FA Women’s Championship and have gone fully professional this summer.
Should they shock Gareth Taylor’s side, Paige Bailey-Gayle could have a reunion with Arsenal if they see off the challenge from Tottenham Hotspur.