Thomas Partey, Arsenal’s Key man
August 31st, 2020 was a transfer deadline day like no other for Arsenal fans. The week leading up was filled with frustration as Gunners fans felt that Edu Gaspar and the club had not made sufficient signings to strengthen the first team squad ahead of the new campaign however, by the end of the final day, the Gunners had a breakthrough, activating the 45 million pound release clause of Thomas Partey, bringing him to N5.
Where it all started
Thomas began his professional career joining Atletico Madrid’s academy in 2013 at the age of 20 and remained at the club until his transfer to Arsenal in the summer of 2020. Throughout his time in Madrid, Thomas went on various loan spells whilst spending time in the Atleti academy sides. Loans at RCD Mallorca and UD Almeria took place before cementing himself as a key member of the Atletico Madrid midfield alongside Koke and Saul in Diego Simeone’s team.
Thomas made his first team debut for Atletico Madrid in November of 2015 in a 1-0 home win against Espanyol. His first league goal for the Spanish side came on the second of January In 2016 scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win for Atletico. Partey grew to be a vital part of Madrid’s midfield over the years and, some standout performances on the European stage caught the eye of Arsenal’s scouts.
In Arsene Wenger’s final year as Arsenal manager, the Gunners drew Atletico in the Semi Final of the UEFA Europa League, proving the toughest opponents they could have possibly got. Partey played a pivotal part in both legs, with the 2020/21 Laliga Champions going through after a 2-1 Agg score.
Another standout performance on the European stage included Thomas’s role when Atletico overcame Liverpool at Anfield in March of 2020. Just prior to the country going into national lockdown due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, Atleti crushed the hearts of Liverpool fans, winning 3-2 on the night and taking the aggregate score to 4-2. The Ghanaian sat at the base of Simeone’s midfield, breaking down Liverpool offences and orchestrating the attacks from deep. Thomas’s ability to tackle and dribble in close proximity remain some of his biggest assets as well as well rounded passing.
Injury riddled Arsenal career so far
Unfortunately, Arsenal’s £45m man has not lived up to the hype since his arrival due to injuries upsetting the progress of the Ghanaian. Despite some fantastic individual performances, Thomas has been unable to get a consistent run in the team and, has suffered since his time in England. After what was effectively an impeccable injury record at Atletico, only missing six games due to hamstring injury, Thomas has already missed 21 games at Arsenal due to Various set backs.
Arsenal fans will hope that they can see Thomas regularly in the side for the rest of this season, with him they are no doubt a much better team with a higher quality structure and balance In midfield. Arsenal’s number five utilises his tackling and dribbling ability to help the Gunners win the ball higher up the field, kickstarting many Arsenal counter attacks. The Ghanaian’s dribbling draws players close to him, enabling him to release the ball into space where Arsenal’s attackers can capitalise and drive at defences. Thomas is a very well-rounded midfielder.
Another key attribute he has displayed since his time in north London is taking the ball into the final third and laying it off ball off to attackers who can put in that final pass to create a chance. He loves to bring the ball out from deep in a number of ways, whether that be through linking up with his teammates, passing his was out, or mazing his way past opposition before powering into the attacking third.
Who is Partey’s Perfect Partner?
Mikel Arteta likes to play with a midfield pivot of two players, which for the most of the last campaign was occupied by Granit Xhaka and Thomas, Xhaka has come under fire from the fanbase after a frustrating beginning to the campaign. A very shrewd piece of business was conducted this summer however, with the acquisition of Albert-Sambi Lokonga. Sambi has been a revelation in midfield so far, looking assured and composed in the Arsenal midfield. With Xhaka now suspended for the next tie, Sambi could be in contention to start alongside Partey in midfield. This combination was used in some of the pre season friendlies this campaign and, many Gunners fans feel it’s time to see it on the Premier League stage. Lokonga did however pick up a knock whilst on international duty so Ainsley Maitland Niles could step in.
Arteta’s take on Thomas
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has had his chance to speak on Thomas’s return to the side ahead of Saturday’s 3pm game against Norwich.
“He is a player that has to be one of the leaders, he has to be the boss in midfield and one of the senior players that has to carry responsibility out of the young players and lead. We have been missing that big time.”
“He has that winning culture, because he has won a lot in the game already, and to have these kind of players in the team is extremely important.”
“So he has a huge role to play in the team.”
Despite not having played this season so far, Partey is expected to start against Norwich on Saturday.