Emirates Stadium

Next Game

Arsenal v Chelsea

Sunday, 26 April 2015, 16:00

Barclays Prem

Wembley

Last Game

Reading 1 - 2 Arsenal

Saturday, 18 April 2015, 17:20

The FA Cup Semi-Final

Williams the right man for Arsenal

Arsenal's defensive frailties have been all too apparent of late and Who Scored's Ali Tweedale reckons Ashley Williams could be the solution.

Last Updated: 07/03/13 at 11:01 Post Comment

Ashley Williams: Linked with summer switch to Arsenal

Ashley Williams: Linked with summer switch to Arsenal

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

For a country that only has a population of just over three million people, it is hardly surprising that year upon year, Wales struggle in qualifying campaigns for major tournaments.

The last World Cup they reached was in 1958 and they have rarely looked like getting close since. However, with 50 million fewer people than neighbours England, for Wales to have produced the footballing talent they have in recent years is rather incredible.

Ian Rush, Mark Hughes, Ryan Giggs, Gary Speed and the like immediately spring to mind, with fresh young talent in Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen promising a bright (or possibly just a brighter) future. One of the rather more unsung members of the current crop of players is Wales and Swansea captain Ashley Williams, who, although he is adored by fans of both his club and country, arguably does not receive the credit he deserves for being a top-level Premier League player. He is the eighth best centre-back this season according to WhoScored.com's statistically based ratings, and with his performances so impressive, a move to one of England's major clubs could be justified.

Williams fits the Swansea set-up brilliantly. Strong and athletic like his centre-back partner Chico, he is more composed in possession than one might expect of a physically intimidating defender.

As one can see from his WhoScored player profile, he passes the ball like a true Swansea player, completing 86.9% of his pass attempts. Interestingly, given the rumours of an end-of-season bid from Arsenal, third in this category in the whole Premier League, behind only Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta (92.4%) and Swansea's Ki Sung-Yueng (92.1%), is Gunners centre-back Per Mertesacker (92%). Williams is more direct in his distribution, though, with 5.3 long balls per game, while the German international will often simply find Arteta or Jack Wilshere to then move the ball upfield.

Perhaps the two would complement each other, and whether Williams would be Mertesacker's prospective replacement or partner is the bigger question, but that is nothing more than mere speculation.

There is good reason for Swansea to do their best to hold onto one of their most prized assets, though. He has missed only one game all season and that was through suspension; he has been ever-present in those 27 matches, with only nine Premier League outfielders having been on the field more than Williams this campaign.

Going forward, despite his prowess in the air (2.2 aerial duels won per game), Williams offers little in front of goal, but that is not what has caught the eye of potential suitors.

Protecting his own goalkeeper is where he stands out, with the Swansea captain having blocked 39 shots this season, an incredible 11 more than any other player in the whole league. He is committed to the cause he is fighting for, and portrays that in his willingness to throw himself at opposition shots with such frequency.

Another area in which he stands out is in clearing the ball. Only Aston Villa's Ciaran Clark (304) has made more clearances in the Premier League this season than Williams (301). Swansea tend to have more of the ball than teams they play against, and four teams have made more clearances than Michael Laudrup's team have in total, while Villa have made the most. The reality of the matter is that when the ball comes into the Swansea penalty area it is Williams who is dominant and prevents goalscoring chances more than any other player.

Whilst Williams might be considered one of Swansea's more reliable players given his consistent selection, the Wales captain is no stranger to a mistake. He is more than capable of slipping up at a key time, in much the same way that Arsenal's defenders so often do.

In fact, since Swansea's promotion to the top flight of English football, only one outfielder has made more errors leading directly to a goal than Williams (3), and that player is Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen (5). Furthermore, joint second with Williams is Vermaelen's partner in crime, Per Mertesacker. Of course, an error-prone defender is not something that Arsene Wenger will actively search out when looking for a new signing, but it is a rather intriguing coincidence that these players are so similar in this sense.

That is not to take anything away from the abilities of any of these players. But perhaps the only reason that so many people hold Vermaelen and Mertesacker in a higher regard than Williams is the fact that they play for a bigger side.

It may be harsh to say so, but Arsenal's defensive frailties have been brutally exposed on one too many occasions this season, and it is no surprise that Sunday's north London derby defeat has led to rumours of a move for Williams.

As Premier League centre-backs go, there are few better than the Welshman, and very few who would be better suited to Arsenal.

All stats courtesy of WhoScored.com. Follow Ali Tweedale on Twitter at @alitweedale.

TEAMtalk Facebook Fan Page

The TEAMtalk fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

A

nd we always will love Ozil. I don't really mind if no other team can see just how brilliant he is, or if people think he is rubbish, because we know he is far from it. He is a fantastic player, and if people cannot see that it can only be a good thing, in that he will be at Arsenal for years to come, pulling the strings from behind a glass veil.

ganachus
F365's Top Ten Unheralded Players Of The Season

I

like the list and Ozil in particular does seem under appreciated when you look at his stats (an odd thing considering his fee or maybe because of it). Palace have a few and I've always thought Dwight Gayle at Palace was under rated, certainly when you look at his goals per game ratio. You can probably also add Ryan Bertrand at Saints who should be in the England team in my view.

sensiblepoolfan
F365's Top Ten Unheralded Players Of The Season

N

ew Shaun Wright Phillips, there I've said it. If any club offers stupid money we'd be stupid to say no, he's not a potential worldie by any stretch and I feel that after a few years warming the bench at city or Chelsea he'll be back at QPR smoking sheesha pipes under Harry Redknapp.

uncle monty
Sterling Case For Leaving 'Bigger' Club

Footer 365

Liverpool stay silent on rumours Jordan Henderson has signed five-year contract at club

Liverpool have declined to comment on reports midfielder Jordan Henderson has signed a new five-year deal at the club.

Chelsea's Kurt Zouma explains 'job' on Marouane Fellaini

Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma has given an insight into his Marouane Fellaini mission in the 1-0 win over Manchester United.

Tom Cleverley credits Tim Sherwood for turning around Villa's fortunes

Tom Cleverley says Aston Villa have been transformed by Tim Sherwood's attacking mentality.

Mail Box

Klopp Over Rodgers? Not On Your Nelly

Liverpool fans have short memories and should give Rodgers more time, while Jose's tactics and claims are getting many more in a stew. It's the afternoon Mailbox...

Thank You And Goodbye, Mr Rodgers

The genius of Tactics Tim, time is up for Rodgers, the curious case of Eric Lamela, and the flaws of tactical voting - today's Mailbox is bursting at the seams...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company