Vermaelen replacement reportedly lined up - not first time he's been linked

With Arsenal's Belgian defender tipped to leave the club in the summer, Wenger has reportedly already identified a Swansea man as his replacement.

While Arsenal's first-choice defensive partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny has been one of the standout duos of this year's Premier League, cover for Arsene Wenger's back-four has looked like something that would need some work come the summer.

And amid reports that club captain Thomas Vermaelen is looking to move on in search of a more regular playing role, Wenger has reportedly returned to a player he has been linked with for several transfer windows to replace the Belgian.

Swansea's captain Ashley Williams has been an almost ever-present in the Welsh club's Premier League adventure, missing just 5 league games in three years. He has long been on Arsenal's radar as a possible defensive reinforcement, and if Vermaelen does indeed leave, the Mail reports he will be the first man Wenger will turn to.

The paper reports that Williams almost joined Arsenal last season, having met officials from the club on two occasions before the end of the summer transfer window. That transfer was reportedly eventually scuppered as a result of the Gunners' focus on the Mesut Ozil deal.

Williams has just one more season left on his contract come May, and at 29, is described as eager to play for one of the Premier League elite. But a quick look at the stats below may indicate Arsene Wenger should also be considering Williams' fellow Swansea centre-back Chico.

Below we look at some of the key areas Williams has excelled in this season, and it is noticeable that Chico comes out on top of Williams in a couple of key areas: 

The Welshman is in the top 10 defenders in terms of total defensive clearances, and compared to the height of the others in the list is by far the most effective given his slightly smaller stature.

NameTeamTotal ClearanceAppsMins
Martin Skrtel Liverpool 335 29 2,592
Steven Caulker Cardiff 282 32 2,880
Ryan Shawcross Stoke 271 32 2,880
Damien Delaney Crystal Palace 270 30 2,655
Jose Fonte Southampton 269 30 2,641
Ben Turner Cardiff 266 28 2,450
Curtis Davies Hull 264 31 2,786
Jonas Olsson West Brom 254 26 2,291
Ashley Williams Swansea 239 29 2,590
Sylvain Distin Everton 228 27 2,430

Williams is also just outside the top ten defenders when it comes to interceptions. Here, his Swansea teammate is top of the list - with over three interceptions per game. Interestingly, Arsenal defender Koscielny features prominently after his outstanding season.

Chico Swansea DF 89 29 2,584
Curtis Davies Hull DF 87 31 2,786
Geoff Cameron Stoke DF 78 31 2,790
Angel Rangel Swansea DF 76 26 2,285
Laurent Koscielny Arsenal DF 74 27 2,291
Joel Ward Crystal Palace DF 74 29 2,610
Maynor Figueroa Hull DF 73 28 2,370
Dejan Lovren Southampton DF 69 25 2,248
Damien Delaney Crystal Palace DF 68 30 2,655
Michael Dawson Spurs DF 65 28 2,502
Ashley Williams Swansea DF 65 29 2,590
Mathieu Debuchy Newcastle DF 62 25 2,161

When it comes to accurate passes, Swansea are up there with the very best - and both Chico and Williams have been superb this season, with both in the top four players in the entire league. 

NameTeamPosAccurate PassAppsMins
Yaya Touré Man City MF 1,863 28 2,420
Chico Swansea DF 1,587 29 2,584
Gareth Barry Everton MF 1,512 25 2,250
Ashley Williams Swansea DF 1,510 29 2,590
Jordan Henderson Liverpool MF 1,507 31 2,769
Mikel Arteta Arsenal MF 1,477 24 1,804
Angel Rangel Swansea DF 1,475 26 2,285
Cheick Tioté Newcastle MF 1,471 27 2,232
Steven Gerrard Liverpool MF 1,456 27 2,290
Michael Carrick Man Utd MF 1,452 24 2,008

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