Leah Williamson marks remarkable achievement with 150 Arsenal appearances
- Credit: PA
At just 23 Leah Williamson marked an incredible achievement as the young English international defender made her 150th appearance for Arsenal last Wednesday against Tottenham Hotspur in the Continental Cup.
Manager Joe Montemurro said after the game “We’re very proud, she personifies everything we’re trying to do at the club, she’s an amazing character who wants to be better and is so humble, it’s incredible to be part of her development.”
“I’m proud that we’ve given her the opportunities and we trust her and we hope she has many more games for us.”
Williamson, who is from Milton Keynes, made her Arsenal debut when she came on for Rachel Yankey in Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat to Birmingham City in the Champions League quarter-final in 2014.
She is a versatile player and can play at centre-back, centre-midfield or even as right-back. She has went on to win 17 caps for England, including an appearance in the Women’s World Cup against Cameroon in 2019.
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The 23-year-old made her 100th start for the club last season against Fiorentina in the Champions League away to the Serie A side.
In 2020-21 Williamson has already beaten her assist record from 2019-20 as she claimed her third assist of the campaign against Spurs, after assisting goals against Reading and Tottenham once again in Women’s Super League.
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Williamson has been an Arsenal fan since she was young and helped her mother do the Arsenal gate on matchday as she watched her heroes growing up. She was even a mascot the day the Gunners won the 2007 Champions League trophy against Umeå of Sweden.
She started playing football for the Gunners aged nine, coming from Rushden and Diamonds, and has gone on to be one of the best players in Europe, with a fantastic passing range.
It helps she plays in a side that dominates with the ball she has completed more long balls over the top of the opposition defence than any other player in the league so far this season, enabling Vivianne Miedema, Jordan Nobbs and Caitlin Foord to drop in behind.
At just 23 she has won five major honours and has appeared in eight cup finals. She is now just six games away from equalling the number of appearances of her hero at Arsenal, Kelly Smith.
The young defender was voted the Arsenal Women’s Supporters’ Club player of the year and was ever present, starting all 15 Super League matches as the Gunners finished third last season.
In 2018/19 she finished the season as Arsenal’s most active player on the ball with 1,501 touches, as well as completing the most successful passes in the opposition’s half (591). It is a pattern that has progressed even further over the past two campaigns as she’s one of the most accomplished players on the ball.
Last season she played 1,286 minutes and was the most used player in the league, which shows her importance to the team, this season has been no different as she has started every game for the Gunners.
In 2014-15 Williamson was named as the PFA young player of the year and last season was named in the PFA team of the year for the first time showing her constant progress on the pitch.
Last season nobody in the WSL made more passes than her (1,212), with a 66 per cent pass completion rate. She boasted an average of 1.16 interceptions per game, the highest in the squad.
Williamson did not make a single error leading to an opposition shot on goal during the last campaign and 71pc of players failed to dribble past the Arsenal number six, with her positional sense on the pitch proving one of the very best in the league.
This season has been no different as Chelsea captain Magdalena Eriksson is the only player who has more progressive yards than Williamson with the England native making up more then 1,072 yards up into the opposition half.
Williamson is not afraid of the big stage and scored in the Continental Cup final against Chelsea last season - a game the Gunners lost 2-1. However, she was key to the 2018-19 title winning side and scored a crucial goal away to West Ham United.
Arsenal fell behind in that game but Williamson’s header in the 26th minute made it 1-1 before Arsenal went on to win 4-2.
Williamson is also a leader and is not afraid to direct the more senior players at the club. She has captained England at youth level, including at the 2014 UEFA Women’s Under-17 Championship, and is tipped to be a future captain of Arsenal and England.