Arsenal Women’s Williamson can reflect on wonderful campaign at individual level

Leah Williamson of Arsenal (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Leah Williamson of Arsenal (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo) - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Leah Williamson was Arsenal Women’s key player during the 2019-20 season, which proved particularly special on an individual level.

The academy graduate had arguably her best campaign to date, with her performances also catching the eye of England boss Phil Neville as she cemented herself into a regular starting position.

Williamson scored her first senior goal for England in 3-2 win in the Czech Republic last November and showed her versatility as she played at centre-back, central midfield and right-back – where she appeared for the Lionesses in the SheBelieves Cup in March.

The 23-year-old has also been a creative spark in the Gunners side and was man marked by Manchester City striker Pauline Bremer when the sides met in October.

A striker marking a defender is unheard of, so this alone highlights Williamson’s attacking quality.

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Williamson also chipped in with two goals during the 2019-20 campaign, one against Bristol City in the 11-1 win and the equaliser against Chelsea in the Continental Cup final defeat in Nottingham in February.

One game that really stands out in Arsenal’s season is the 4-0 win at Brighton in January, a game that saw Williamson claim two assists with two sublime crossfield balls into the feet of Dutch duo Danielle van de Donk and Jill Roord.

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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 defending champions finished third.

An Arsenal supporter since birth, Williamson wears her heart on her sleeve and has so much drive and determination to win at all costs.

Nobody in the WSL made more passes than her (1,212), with a 66 per cent pass completion rate and she also 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 and 71 per cent 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.

Extremely good at getting tight to an attacker and winning the ball, she also had the most deep progressions in the whole division as she turned defence into attack at a rapid pace and set Arsenal on the counter after turning over possesion.

Williamson also played as a central midfielder when she was younger and, when Lia Wälti was injured, settled into that role with ease, proving she can also play as a playmaker.

The game aganist Birmingham City at Boreham Wood in January saw Williamson put in a fine playmaking performance and she claimed an assist in the 2-0 win, chipping the ball over the top for Jordan Nobbs to race onto and score.

Despite having a tackle success rate of 66 per cent, Williamson wasn’t booked once during the league campaign as she showed perfect timing in her tackles.

She has proven herself to be one of the best defenders not only in England but Europe and is superb at defending 1-v-1 situations.

Her contribution to the side hasn’t gone unnoticed as she was named in three separate FA Women’s Super League teams of the season, as well as being up for the BBC’s player and young player of the season awards.

Another highlight to stick out in her season was a goal-saving tackle in the north London derby away to Tottenham Hotspur in November.

Williamson also won 63 per cent of her aerial duels, once again highlighting she is one of the most agile players in the league, who has also got a very good turn of pace that makes her unique when moving between defence and attack.

Fired up going into that north London derby clash, Williamson made a superb challenge to deny Rianna Dean getting through in a 1-v-1 situation and scoring.

Williamson is not just an extremely good technical footballer, but also a leader for such a young player, never afraid to shy away and offer advice to senior teammates, which is why many believe she will be a future captain of not just Arsenal but England.

During her time with the Gunners, Williamson has already won the Women’s Super League title, two FA Cups and two Continental Cups.

An already popular member of the squad, the 2019-20 season saw Williamson rise into a league of her own and there is plenty more to come as she’s finally getting the recognition she deserves.

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