Last season, we dived deep into one of Arsenal’s biggest problems which made them not only underperform but fall well short of their rivals towards the top of the table and that was Arsenal’s midfield. We dived into how there wasn’t a fixed solution at the time but Arsenal has gone on their way to addressing those issues, with Thomas Partey coming in.
Granted, the Ghanain hasn’t had a great start to the season with him not reaching the heights that have been expected of him. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is one of Arsenal’s undroppable players and the Gunners seem to function poorly when he isn’t playing. Here we’ll be looking into what makes Thomas Partey such an astute signing for the club and why he’s so important for Mikel Arteta.
Style of Play:
Partey at Atletico was a monster, he was aggressive on and off the ball with Simeone using him as something of a shield to protect the back 4 and sustain pressure. At Arsenal, he’s been used in a multitude of roles ranging from filling in at fullback ala Xhaka, or being a lone 6 in a 433 (this failed) but one thing has been consistent with him and that’s his passing and ability on the ball.
The Ghanaian is a risk-taker, and his passing showcases that with him trying for the more difficult pass rather than choosing the easier option. This at times doesn’t end well, as Arsenal loses possession and has to retract into shape but he’s done extremely well with how he uses the ball. His between-the-line passing is his strongest attribute, which is why he is usually at the base of Arsenal’s midfield.
In this above scenario, Chelsea has initiated a high press and is looking to win the ball back quickly to have an opportunity at goal. Mari plays the ball into Partey’s feet, and he easily dribbles past his marker in Jorginho, ignoring the marked passing lane to his right as he’s nimble with his feet. Evading the first press and getting Arsenal out of their defensive third and he’s done this time and time again, which almost none of Arsenal’s current midfield players doing this as effectively as Partey.
His ability to find players in advanced positions and early is very underrated. Partey has this knack of forcing those difficult passes into teammates in the 14 Zone (Central Area) which is one of the most crowded spaces in football. When he has the time and the patience to look around, he can pick players out with ease. Look at this pass when Arsenal played Norwich at the Emirates. Any other midfielder would look for the safe option but Partey sees an opportunity and absolutely fizzes the ball into Saka’s feet (our favorite passes) from which coincidently, Arsenal scores from.
This was one of Arsenal’s biggest issue in midfield: they didn’t move the ball quick enough and needed someone who would be more than happy to consistently find his teammates in dangerous situations. Partey does this really well, and It helps Arsenal sustain pressure as well. Different midfield types have their own plus points, and having all-rounders is a really good way to become a team that is good with and without the ball. The Ghanaian defends space really well but rather than chase the ball down, he prefers to defend in space and not allow opponents to gain too much ground as not everyone is Kante (elite).
This helps Arsenal get back into space and reduce the space that was previously left behind by their players going forward. Now lets get into the analytical side of the story.
The analytical side of his game supports what we had to say when we looked at his style of play. Partey is a midfielder that is not a pure defensive midfielder, he’s more of a connecter between midfield and the attack, with his passing being one of the key areas Arsenal utilize him for. Here’s a summary of what his stats tell about us
- He’s an extremely progressive passer of the ball with 5.51 per 90 statistical data showcasing it
- He is also able to carry the ball into the middle/final third if given space with 1.10 dribbles per 90 completed.
- He doesn’t press much (this season, could be because of Arsenal choosing not to press either.)
- 61 percentile for Shot Creating actions, which is decent but can be improved
- Although statistically he shoots alot, but honestly he should stop doing it cause he’s not good at it
- Partey is right foot dominant with almost 1626 passes made with it compared to just 424 with his left at Arsenal.
Arsenal needs Thomas Partey, just as much as he needs them. They’re a perfect match with his qualities outshining those of his teammates making him unique to the club and If played right, one of their best players. He must be played into form, as when that happens you can expect him to go up a level, as we believe there is more to come from him.