Thomas needs to come to the Partey against Man United

Thomas Needs to Be the Life of Arsenal’s Party. by AI

After Sunday’s loss to Leiceister City, a lot of Arsenal fans were baffled as to how we lost. We used the 4-3-3 and played with Thomas Partey. Didn’t we attack enough? Well, we had 12 attempts to Leiceister’s 3. We even had a wrongly disqualified goal. So what went wrong? How could we have got it wrong?

And then fans started to realize that Thomas Partey was kind of passed by in the match. Granit Xhaka, for instance, had double of Partey’s touches. In fact, in the second half where we relied heavily on Xhaka to pass the ball out, we suddenly became toothless.

Thomas Partey was not just signed to provide steel in the midfield. He was signed because he was also a reliable ball-progressor, either via passing or dribbling. Among midfielders in Europe’s top 5 leagues last season, only Thiago at Liverpool had a better dribbling success rate. Only Kovavic at Chelsea had attempted more. He is the ultimate version of Xhaka: a defender, dribbler and passer all mixed into one.

At Atletico Madrid, Thomas was required to keep things kicking at the base of the midfield and make sure that outlets in Renan Lodi and Kieran Trippier were accurately supplied with the ball. Against Leiceister, Partey played in a withdrawn role. Xhaka was the passing progressor and Ceballos was the dribbler. Partey was given little to do.

Perhaps this is because he’s new to the squad. It would make sense to be prudent, to give him a bigger slice of responsibility only gradually until the team can trust him fully. But Partey is not some 20 year old wonderkid. He’s 27, a veteran of gritty Champions League campaigns and an incredibly selfless player.

The sooner we trust him with responsibility, the better it is. There’s no point in signing a 50 million ready-made product if he’s not going to be immediately given the responsibility he needs to star. Gabriel in the defence is a good example.

So why can’t we throw him at the deep end this weekend and see if he sinks or swims?

AGboola Israel

Tags Man United Partey


  1. If Granit Xhaka was playing in a more successful team, he’d also have a lot of beautiful stats. Don’t get me wrong, in every aspect of the game except passing through the lines, Partey is a better player. Granit is simply a specialist at vertical passing between the lines. Personally, I feel like our best tactic is to play Xhaka behind Partey when attacking.

    Think of attack in phases. First phase would be when we are getting the ball out of defense, I’d say Partey pushes up into the opposition hole, the fullbacks, push like they did against Leicester. We use Xhaka to beat the united press with a pass to the forward line looking for either Tierney, Bellerin or any of the forwards. We could then start combining from there using Partey as a recycling point 30-40 yards from the opposition goal . Because he’s a better short passer, I’d imagine he’d perform better than all our other mids in that role. We’d also push Elneny wide right to allow Bellerin to hold width on the right while also overloading their right side.

    On a failed attack, return the ball to Xhaka, rinse and repeat.

    1. That would work if Xhaka played more centrally but from what I’ve seen so far, Arteta likes him tucking to the left side essentially playing as a LB. From that position it would be difficult for him or any player however talented to play long balls with offensive players crowding him out; in this case the only outlet is passing back to the left CB given limited dribbling ability and lack of pace. At the centre of the pitch though it’s much easier to pick a pass like what Jorginho does for Chelsea

  2. Perhaps Partey playing in a more conservative manner has something to do with instructions from his coach. Often we blame players not forgetting that their performances are based part on self expression and part on structure and tactics demanded from the coach. We’ve seen all too often a player flopping under one set-up and flourishing under another; Lukaku, James Rodriguez are good examples. Lately there’s been a sense that our midfield and offensive players are restricted a bit while our fullback enjoy more freedom in their movement; You could see that Xhaka and Ceballos played almost as fullbacks effectively restricting their play through the middle. A good coach is defined by striking a balance between these two variables and I trust Arteta will achieve that with time.

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