In Focus: Arsenal ace Williamson Gunning for WSL title
Leah Williamson tasted international success with England last summer and is now back to winning silverware with Arsenal.
The Gunners clinched the Continental Cup on Sunday with a 3-1 victory over London rivals Chelsea, bringing an end to a four-year wait for a trophy for the club.
This followed the Lionesses skipper lifting the European Championship trophy in 2022, after defeating Germany in the Wembley showpiece.
On International Women's Day, we take an in-depth look at the 25-year-old's career ahead of Arsenal's Women's Super League clash with Liverpool tonight.
Williamson and her Arsenal team-mates ended the Gunners' trophy drought, securing their first piece of silverware under Swedish coach Jonas Eidevall.
Now they will look to build on that success, with the North Londoners still fighting for glory in two further competitions.
A home victory against Liverpool would see Eidevall's side move to within six points of WSL leaders Manchester United, on whom they have two games in hand.
Then later this month, the Gunners will take on Bayern Munich over two legs in the quarter-finals of the Women’s Champions League.
There is the potential for this to be a very special season for Williamson, adding to what has already been a glittering career.
Williamson has spent her entire career at Arsenal, having joined the club aged nine. Making her debut the day after her 17th birthday back in 2014, she quickly established herself within the first-team squad.
The recent League Cup victory was her third for the club. She has also won two FA Women’s Cups and a WSL title in 2018-19.
Williamson started her career as a midfielder at Arsenal, which is evident in the ability that she shows on the ball in her current position as a centre-back.
Former manager Joe Montemurro made the decision to switch her position in 2017, enabling the team to pass out from the back and making the most of the Milton Keynes native's acute positional sense.
Yet when Sarina Wiegman became England coach in 2021, she initially took advantage of Williamson’s versatility by playing her in midfield in the World Cup qualifiers against North Macedonia and Luxembourg.
Leading the Lionesses
Not only did Wiegman change Williamson’s position, she also made the decision to name her as captain, with the then regular Lionesses’ skipper Steph Houghton ruled out with injury.
In April 2022, just months before the triumphant Euro 2022 campaign, the natural leader was handed the armband on a permanent basis.
Utilised as a central defender, Williamson’s performances were crucial to the first English tournament success since the men’s team won the World Cup in 1966.
On her leadership skills, England team-mate Ella Toone said: "She's a talker on the pitch but she's really chilled as well, that's what you need, the right balance.
"Leah's just Leah. I'm really happy for her that she got to captain England and hopefully she goes on to play a lot more games for England because she's such an amazing talent and such a great person as well, on and off the pitch."
Wiegman's side will next seek global glory, as they prepare for the Women's World Cup taking place in Australia and New Zealand later this year.
Williamson has spoken about how the Euro 2022 win has made her hungry for more success at Arsenal, after finishing just a point behind champions Chelsea in last season's WSL.
She said: "It came down to the wire and we missed out by the finest of margins, it hurt me a lot and I think it tired me.
"Going to the Euros, the closer you get to the final, the more you realise if it’s not successful you have to do that all again to even have a shot at winning.
"We want to be winning things. Being so close to the league last season, obviously we are chasing that and the Champions League is the big one."
With one trophy already in the bag, Arsenal will be confident in their ability to win more this season, with tonight’s match against Liverpool being crucial to their WSL hopes.