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 Against Leiceister, Partey played in a withdrawn role.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?