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

S

terling needs to be told though that upon entering the Arsenal squad he will re-enact the final scene from Highlander where he will be thrown around a warehouse by cartoon dragons and then be a mere mortal that will only ever spend three to four weeks a season playing football and the rest on the physio's bed. There can be only one.....player available at The Emirates.

rodger's gusset
Arsenal interest in Sterling

T

he game changed in our favour when Carrick came on. We were able to play further up the pitch due to having a player who can give and go with the ball and keep possession. Yet barkley made some runs and Townsend scored a good goal but carrick's inclusion and chiellini's withdrawal made the biggest difference to the flow of the game

ricky villa
Hodgson: Barkley was brilliant

N

o, you've not silenced anyone Andros, i'm afraid. We know you can score a great goal, and it's really handy to have your direct running and willingness to shoot on the bench. But until you can do the other things expected of a winger (beat the man, put a decent cross in, stay wide etc) then you can't expect more than a regular cameo. Wonderful goal though, what a hit! No wonder Buffon wanted the shirt.

badwolf
Townsend: I've silenced critics

Footer 365

De Gea: United 'cannot' fail

David De Gea says that Manchester United must qualify for the Champions League next season "no matter what".

Lucas ready to make an impact

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva is looking to recapture what he considers his best form in two years after recovering from injury.

Mats Hummels denies promising to join Manchester United

Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels has denied making any promise to join Manchester United.

Mail Box

Is This The End Of Ex-Players As Managers?

Do massive wages and cushty TV numbers signal the end of the ex-high-profile player turned manager? Plus Liverpool fans don't actually say the 'next year' thing...

A Solution For The Premier League's 39th Game...

One morning Mailboxer solves the 39th game conundrum. Plus England were actually alright, Harry Kane is rubbish again and do Arsenal have the most embarrassing fans?

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