Arsenal’s new Ghanaian recruit has Gunners fans excited at the prospect of a world-class midfield dynamo running the show in London.
What makes Partey tick and why is he such a good fit for Mikel Arteta’s team? Let’s take a quick look.
Defensive solidity & balance
Partey is a highly accomplished ball-winner who blends intelligence, physicality, smart positioning and his reading of the game to allow him to snuff out opposition attacks. In the 2019-20 LaLiga season, he made 28 interceptions, only seven midfielders managed more in the Spanish top-flight. In last season’s Champions League campaign he managed an average of 3.6 tackles per game, the seventh-highest figure of any player.
Partey isn’t afraid of doing the dirty work on the ground and he’s also formidable in the air. The 27-year-old’s defensive excellence is likely to lend more balance to the Arsenal engine-room and, as we’ll discuss next, present a host of possibilities for the Arsenal manager.
Options for Arteta
Mikel Arteta has spoken of the “non-negotiables” that he demands from his players. Passion, a positive attitude, desire and hard-work all fall into this category and they are all areas where Partey contributes in a big way. With Arsenal’s new number 18 in the side, Arteta has a bunch of new tactical options and we already know how flexible the Spaniard has become in that regard. Having a player of Partey’s calibre at his disposal gives rise to some enticing possibilities.
Partey’s flexibility and tactical intelligence mean that he can be deployed in a variety of systems. He would seamlessly slot in alongside Granit Xhaka or Dani Ceballos to form a double pivot after becoming well-accustomed to operating as one of two central midfielders in a 4-4-2. He also has the ball-playing capabilities and intelligence to roam higher up the pitch or cause damage in the final third as a box-to-box ball-player in a midfield trio.
If the Arsenal boss opts for a back four, Partey is tailor-made for a role on the right-hand side of a central midfield trio after spending some time as a makeshift right-back in the past. His natural defensive instincts would allow Hector Bellerin to maraud forward more often from right-back knowing that he’s got a safety net in the form of Thomas Partey filling in. Assuming that Partey provides more defensive structure in Arsenal’s existing systems, Arteta might finally feel that it’s time to sacrifice one of his three centre-backs to accommodate an extra attacking player. This would mean that the Gunners can create more chances for their talented attackers.
The complete package
Partey is by no means strictly a defensive midfielder. The Ghana vice-captain is a graceful and powerful ball-carrier who is able to glide forward in possession and spark attacks and transitions. This might be an almighty weapon for an Arsenal side that already thrives in counter-attacking scenarios.
Partey averaged 62 passes per game in Atletico’s 2019/20 Champions League run, an impressive statistic given how Diego Simeone’s stubborn side often ceded possession to the opposition and sprung attacks on the counter. Partey grabbed a pair of assists last night for Ghana in their friendly win over Qatar, here’s the second:
Thomas Teye Partey brings a wealth of experience to the Arsenal setup. At 27 he is already a veteran of over 160 Spanish top-flight appearances and has valuable experience under the infamously tigerish manager Diego Simeone.
In Thomas, Arsenal might finally have found what they’ve been looking for.