Who among the Arsenal players do you think is responsible for the club’s title charge?
Some may object, but Thomas Partey could be this player. Before you crucify me, consider what Tony Cascarino has to say about a team needing a reliable holding midfielder to mount a strong title challenge, as well as what he has to say about Partey.
“People often overlook the “simple” defensive midfielder. Eric Cantona once called them “water carriers” – players who do the important leg work for the teammates around them. It’s not a pejorative phrase though—their work enables others to shine. They are catalysts,” said Cascarino to the Times (he was comparing Liverpool’s midfield with that of other teams like Arsenal).
“You need not look far to find a good one and see their importance: Casemiro at Manchester United has been outstanding.
“The same is true at Arsenal with Thomas Partey. Now he has overcome last season’s injury problems, he has anchored a title charge. There is Rodri at Manchester City too; he is brilliant in the air. With a big, aerially dominant player, Pep Guardiola can fit in the smaller technicians around him, such as Bernardo Silva or Phil Foden.”
Cascarino believes Partey is responsible for Arsenal’s current position in the title race, and he may be correct. Arteta has relied on Partey as a lone sitter in his midfield this season. This is due to him switching him from a double midfield pivot alongside Granit Xhaka to now making him provide defensive cover for Xhaka and Odegaard, as the traditional number 6.
With Xhaka and Odegaard free of defensive responsibilities, they can focus solely on attacking, increasing Arsenal’s chances in front of goal, and scoring the goals that the team needed to win games.
If you don’t agree that an injury-free Partey is the heart of this Arsenal team, I don’t know what to tell you.
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