Swansea skipper Ashley Williams is confident Garry Monk’s high-fliers can take the next step and beat the Barclays Premier League’s big boys on a regular basis.
The Welsh club moved into the top five with their 2-1 comeback victory over Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday afternoon and belief is growing that they can better their best Premier League finish of ninth place two seasons ago.
Swansea have now claimed two big scalps this season – they also won 2-1 at Manchester United on the opening day – and Williams says upsetting the big clubs could be the key to them sustaining an impressive start to the campaign.
“It’s great for the team to take that next step,”
Williams said after goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bafetimbi Gomis had overturned Alexis Sanchez’s opener and moved Swansea above Arsenal in the Premier League standings.
“The next step is to have the confidence to beat the big teams and we’ve done really well in doing that this season.
“There was a period when you felt the squad was confident but thinking ‘We’re quite good but can we win these games.’
“But we work hard and prepare well, so why not? Obviously we’ll have tough times in the season but we feel now that we can really make a mark, show what we’re about and go up against teams like Arsenal.”
With some of the league’s biggest clubs showing signs of struggle this season it has been suggested that this could be the campaign when a smaller team breaks into the top four and qualifies for Champions League football.
Southampton are the nearest challengers to leaders Chelsea right now, four points adrift in second position, and West Ham and Swansea both occupy the top five places above the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton.
But central defender Williams admits he is unsure whether Swansea can sustain a top-five position and he is just focusing on having a strong season.
“We haven’t put a target on it to be in the top whatever, we just want a good season.” Williams said.
“There will be a couple of teams who will break into the top eight and I definitely want to see where we can go.
“I’m 30 and I don’t want to waste another season. I loved playing in the Europa League last season because I never thought in my career I would have the chance to play in Europe but to me it felt like a wasted season.
“We were trying to stay up and it’s not what we’re used to here, it’s not what the club or the city’s about.
“We don’t just want to stay in the Premier League as we’ve been here for a number of years.
“We feel we’ve got the quality and work ethic to be in the top half at least and we’re not here to just try and survive.”
Williams believes the team has developed under Monk’s tutelage this season with the rookie manager adding defensive steel to the side’s traditional passing and possession game.
Everton’s former Swansea boss Roberto Martinez criticised his old club for their approach following a recent goalless draw at Goodison Park saying it was not the style of play he recognised from his days at the Liberty Stadium, but Williams said it was proof that every player knew their job.
“The gaffer’s plan was to work on the defensive side of things first and then the attacking side,” Williams revealed.
“What you saw in the Everton game was everyone understanding their role and even though we went down to 10 men we did what we needed to do.
“We know people said ‘same old Swansea’ and had figured out to play against us so we made a conscious effort to change that.”
Featured image By Christopher Elkins from Bristol, United Kingdom (IMAGE_154) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons