She is The Arsenal. (by Charlotte Stacey)
With a growing number of international senior caps under her belt, and a season even the most experienced player would be proud of, Arsenal and England defender Leah Williamson is knocking on the door of something special.
Leah Williamson is a rare find. Always looking comfortable due to her wealth of practice in a starting eleven, Williamson plays with a poise and consistency that is seldom seen in a player of a young age. An absolute visionary, at only 22, Williamson is able to read a game with a sense and maturity far beyond her years.
Williamson's significance on the field is plain to see. Whether it is a quick one-two, a placed long ball or an essential block, Williamson seems to always be one step ahead. Her capacity to anticipate a play, for both her own side, and her opposition, is rather remarkable. It is this foresight that makes her so influential, and watching her play in person only heightens the observation of her cardinal importance on the pitch.
Whilst on the surface she may not appear the most physically intimidating centre back, Williamson should certainly not be underestimated. Brave in her decision making, Williamson is savvy with a slide tackle; always well timed and tactful. Her ability to predict an opposing pass often results in her making interceptions at the most crucial of times, and she is more than reliable with a clearance. Williamson is a staple in the Gunners defence, and is undoubtedly well on her way to reaching the same feat with the Lionesses.
Steadfast in her approach, from the back, Williamson comfortably instigates play with a momentum in which she sees fit. Yet, she is quick to get things moving when the opportunity arises. Using her experience as a midfielder, Williamson is able to press forward, and in doing so, dispels threats to her own half all the while causing problems to the opposition in theirs.
Fiercely loyal to her club, Williamson will stand her ground in an unfair ruling. Yet she is controlled in her protest, always careful not to worsen a dispute to detriment of her teammates. For Williamson, the welfare of her team is paramount. Not one to pass the buck, Williamson notes her responsibility when things perhaps do not go as planned. Yet, ever modest when the final whistle blows she is dignified in both victory and defeat. Whatever the outcome may have been, Williamson dutifully recognises, and draws upon, both the positive and negatives to further develop her game. In times of reflection, Williamson is brutally realistic in what is achievable and what is not, yet she is always positive in moving forward.
What is clear, is that Williamson encompasses the mindset, will power and sportsmanship of the finest professional, and is a true asset to both her club and country. With all the attributes and the temperament of a natural leader, whether it is for Arsenal or England, a future captaincy is surely on the cards. Williamson should have every confidence in herself to carry the honour.
World, take note of Leah Williamson, for the best is yet to come.
by Charlotte Stacey