Swansea defender Williams expecting 'hardest' Premier League season yet

The Wales international believes the Swans' European commitments will make this campaign their most demanding in the top flight, but is excited by the club's new arrivals
Swansea City captain Ashley Williams is raring to go for the new season, which he believes will be the toughest yet since gaining promotion to the Premier League.

The Swans have the prospect of European football to contend with thanks to last season’s Capital One Cup victory, while their determination to go far in domestic cup competitions could see them with a packed schedule.

“Last season was a long, demanding campaign, which took a lot out of the boys,” the 28-year-old told the club’s official website. “So it is great to get away from it all and just relax your body and mind.

“I had around two week off before I was back in the gym to ensure I was ready for the demands of pre-season.

“Any pre-season is important, but maybe this year it is even more important that everything is perfect.

“We will be playing in the Europa League in around four weeks’ time, and if we can make it through to the group stages then there will be a lot more games on the fixture list.

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“That’s great for us, because we want to be as competitive as we can be in the league, the FA Cup, the Europa League and the Capital One Cup – especially as we are the holders.

“And even though we have improved every season, I think this year will be the hardest we will have faced in the top flight so far.”

This transfer window has seen manager Michael Laudrup once again make the most of the Spanish connections that saw him bring star player Michu to the club for just £2m last summer, with Jordi Amat, Jose Canas and Alejandro Pozuelo all joining from La Liga clubs.

Williams is hoping the new signings can adapt to life in South Wales as well as compatriots Angel Rangel, Chico Flores, Pablo Hernandez and Michu, who are all crowd favourites at the Liberty Stadium

“Everyone has seen the impact the Spanish lads have made at this club, so we’re hoping Jordi, Jose and Alejandro can do the same,” the Wales international continued.

“Obviously I haven’t seen them compete in games yet as they’ve only recently joined, but I can already see from training that they are all technically gifted players who are suited with the style of the team.

“They’ve settled into the group well too.”

Jonjo Shelvey has also joined from Premier League rivals Liverpool, and Williams believes the £5m England man’s arrival demonstrates the club’s pulling power.

“Jonjo is a quality signing for us,” said Williams. “We know what he can do as we’ve played against him a number of times, while he has represented England as well so that proves his quality.

“It’s such an exciting time to be a Swansea fan. Everyone has enjoyed the massive success the club has tasted recently, and now we are looking forward to another exciting adventure.

“Expectations may have been surpassed, but we can’t live on that success. We have to start again and put in the hard work – and that hard work starts now.”