Declan Rice admits that he was “so excited” to have Partey back as his midfield partner

Following the 3-0 victory over Bournemouth, Declan Rice gave his honest opinion on what it’s like to play alongside Thomas Partey in Arsenal’s midfield.

This season, with everyone fit, the strongest Arsenal midfield on paper is Thomas Partey, Declan Rice, and Martin Odegaard. As good as the trio were individually last season, playing together was always going to make Arsenal’s midfield unplayable.

Mikel Arteta trusted and played it in Arsenal’s Community Shield victory against Manchester City, and we assumed it would be his normal midfield this season. However, the Spaniard chose not to do so, instead fielding Partey at right back, an experiment that failed miserably.

By the time Mikel Arteta answered the calls to switch Partey back to midfield, the Ghanaian international had sustained a serious injury that kept him out for a while. After a while out, he returned, only to make a cameo appearance against Manchester City before being out for months again.

Interestingly, Arteta did not immediately reintroduce the ex-Atletico Madrid player into the starting lineup (or even give him minutes from the bench) until after he fully recovered and passed match fitness. It didn’t sit well with some Gooners, who even chastised Arteta for not trusting the 30-year-old in big games like the 0-0 draw with Manchester City and the 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich, which he could have impacted.

Arteta eventually gave us the joy of watching a Partey-Rice-Odegaard midfield late last month versus Chelsea. Since Arsenal’s 5-0 victory over the Blues, the Partey-Rice-Odegaard midfield has been undroppable.

Partey anchors the midfield, giving Declan Rice a free role while Martin Odegaard concentrates on coordinating the attacking play.

Rice has greatly benefited from Partey’s reintegration; he has even produced an assist in each of the last three games.

After a standout performance against Bournemouth on Saturday, Rice was asked about the experience of playing alongside Partey.
He admitted; “It’s massive. The prospect of playing with Thomas — he’s been injured all season — I’ve been so excited.

“Now that he’s back, you can see the difference he makes. He’s so calm on the ball and does these body feints that create so much space.

“With him sitting there, it allows me to go forward more. You can see that with my goal and assist. The goal came so late in the game that I thought I might as well shoot, and it went in.”

Despite many assuming he was no longer part of Arteta’s game plan, Partey has been truly significant in the Premier League run-in; whether he stays or leaves, as largely expected, we will remember his brilliance during this period.

That said, next season, given Partey’s or even Jorginho’s influence anchoring the midfield, Mikel Arteta should just give Rice a free role and have a top midfield recruit, if not Partey, to fill the No. 6 role.

Sam P

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Tags Arsenal v Bournemouth Partey Rice


  1. We can’t fill every need this Summer, so perhaps bringing in 1 midfielder and letting Partey play out his contract would be acceptable.

    It allows the club to upgrade positions, and puts off spending on a midfielder until next Summer.

    Is the fee for Partey worth it, or is the club better off keeping him for rotation and backup?

    1. I think it’s better to keep him and buy another CM who can rotate with Partey and MO. We still need one midfielder whether Partey stays or goes and if he leaves we need twow of them, and I don’t think we have enough funds for two if we are getting a new striker too. So I rather we keep him, but another CM, ST, and LB.

      1. Youseff Fofana would be a great addition. He can anchor like Partey or play further forward as a rotational option for MO. And he would be affordable.

  2. Midfield looks solid now. If only we could have Partey fit for half a season! I think Odegaard needs some serious competition next season (ESR, Vieira, I’m looking at you!). We certainly can do with higher number of goal contributions from the person wearing our number 10.

  3. Its not surprising of the value Rice puts on the world class player.
    Many a armchair managers will never understand this.

    Maybe one of the biggest mystery is why was he not used against Aston Villa?
    Did the gaffer over think it ?

  4. Except a very very good offer of 30m+ arrives for Partey I’D agree we keep him for another year and buy a hybrid midfielder who can substitute either of Odegaard and Rice.
    May be if Partey is cleverly rotated with Jorginho, he might stay off the treatment room more often.

    1. Its obvious neither Partey nor Jorgi can play a full season. Keeping both is like one player. Implication is another defensive midfielder needs to be signed

      Both Vieira( personally not convinced of him though) and ESR would play supporting roles in attacking midfield and we should be good

    2. Agree but it’s either him or Jorghinho. I don’t think we will get another CM if both of them are staying. I rather we keep Partey than Jorginho and we can get anothe CM to rotate with him and MO

  5. Should Arteta consider BenWhite as a screening option
    With and whenTomo and Timber are avaiable we have capable cove
    Not a bad dilemna to have when the club is ready to invest big money for midfielder and centre forward

  6. I hope Arteta has learnt some lessons this season.The freedom that Rice has played with alongside Partey is so telling. I am certain if we deployed this midfield for the whole season we won’t be in this tug of war with City. Unfortunately Partey has been so injured. I wish we got a better DM in January.
    All this is water under the bridge and fast forward next season we shouldn’t repeat the same mistake. Keep Partey,give him a 1year contract for resale,and get a better player than him for succession purposes.
    I just hope the contract given to Jorginho is to allow us get atleast something for him on the Market but not for keeping him.On evidence based results Partey gives us more stability and better results than Jorginho.If we have to keep one it’s Partey over Jorginho all day.

  7. Koopmeiner of Atalanta will be a good replacement for Partey that’s only if arsenal pursue him, then Declan Rice continues in is favourite CDM.

    Koopmeiner Rice Odegaard

    And that will be a perfect midfield to kickstart our title defence next season

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