Arsenal’s Leah Williamson reckons ‘taste of winning’ has put fire in her belly as Gunners begin title chase

    LEAH WILLIAMSON says the “pain” of Arsenal coming close to WSL title glory has put “fire” in her belly to help the club become champions.

    The history-making England skipper, 25, is ready to go through a rollercoaster of emotions following the highs of winning the Euros.

    Leah Williamson and Arsenal take on Brighton in their first game of the new WSL season

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    Leah Williamson and Arsenal take on Brighton in their first game of the new WSL seasonCredit: Getty
    Arsenal are aiming to win the league title for the first time since 2019

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    Arsenal are aiming to win the league title for the first time since 2019Credit: Getty – Contributor

    This week Williamson and team-mates begin their quest to win more silverware for a club who were once the most dominant in the domestic game.

    A total of 58 trophies have been lifted by Arsenal between 1992 and 2019.

    These include 15 top-flight titles with the last of their three WSL crowns clinched in 2019.

    Having tasted glory with England this summer, the Milton Keynes-born central defender is hungry to help the Gunners return to the top.  

    Williamson, whose team play Brighton at home on Friday night, said: “At the end of last season because it came down to the wire.

    “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.

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    “To be successful has given me a bit of fire back in my belly before the season and now I’m looking forward to starting a new journey so to speak.

    “I’ve definitely got my motivation back and once you get a taste of winning you obviously want more.”

    Arsenal’s clash with Albion will see Williamson, Beth Mead and Lotte Wubben-Moy back in WSL action for the first time since England’s Euros win in July.

    A 2-1 defeat of Germany at Wembley saw Williamson enter the history books as the first player to skipper a Lionesses side to European Championship triumph.

    And the versatile defender jokingly admits to dreading the moment when she does not reflect on that win at least once during the day.

    The WSL star added: “I’m a big softy. I like fairytale endings.

    “It was very fitting for that tournament on home soil at Wembley so you couldn’t have really written it much better.”

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    When Per Mertesacker won the 2014 World Cup with Germany, the former Gunners defender admitted it was hard to come down from the elation of winning the tournament.

    On whether she has experienced similar feelings following the Euros, Williamson said: “I did have a conversation with Jonas Eidevall about it and where I was at with returning.

    “As much as coming out of a tournament early and underachieving, going from the highest of highs and going back into normal life regardless of football, is still hard.

    England's Euros win has made Williamson hungrier for more success at club level

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    England’s Euros win has made Williamson hungrier for more success at club levelCredit: AFP

    “I was expecting that. I had plans in place to deal with my own emotions around it.

    “I’m very lucky that I play for a club that I love so it doesn’t feel like a day of work.

    “I’m expecting some emotions so I’m expecting a little bit of a rollercoaster of them at some points.”

    Arsenal’s season-opener comes four days before their Champions League second-round duel with Ajax

    Being so close to (winning) the league last season, obviously, we are chasing that, and the Champions League is the big one. It’s a different game.

    Leah Williamson

    Both clubs battling for a place in the contest’s group stages.

    The experience of winning a major trophy on the international has given Williamson more belief in the Gunners’ potential in the contest this term.

    The club is currently the only English side to win the tournament when Vic Akers guided them to victory against Swedish outfit Umea in April 2007.

    The centre-back said: “We want to be winning things.

    Jonas Eidevall's stars will face Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday

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    Jonas Eidevall’s stars will face Ajax in the Champions League on TuesdayCredit: Getty

    “Being so close to (winning) the league last season, obviously, we are chasing that, and the Champions League is the big one. It’s a different game.

    “We weren’t in it for so many years but now we have players who have been in it and are ready.

    “We want to see how far we can go in that so that motivates me a lot.”

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