For much of the season, Thomas Partey has been the best defensive midfielder in the league.
A one man wrecking ball, he has been doing the job of two-me in the middle of the park.
His dominance has allowed Mikel Arteta to push Granit Xhaka further forward, creating overloads higher up the field.
Partey is not only a disrupter, he is also a good passer. Able to take the ball off the defence in tight spaces and pick out a pass. He quickly turns defence into attack.
Arsenal have reportedly been nursing him through injury issues this season, trying to keep him to playing once a week. And this has potentially caught up on him these last few games.
The Partey we saw against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton was certainly not the Partey we have seen for the rest of the season.
He looks slower, both in body and thought. More passes getting misplaced. More poor decisions made. He looks a shadow of the man that drove us into a position to be champions.
With Partey clearly not at 100%, we have struggled.
7 goals conceded in 3 games is not the sign of champions. And whilst I am not blaming Partey, his drop in form has allowed our defence to be got at much easier.
Last season, our fight for the top 4 came to an end due to Partey’s injury. This season we have stumbled due to his loss of form – probably caused by injury.
Partey can not be relied upon. This is the first season since joining us that he has started more tHan 24 games. He has now started 26 out of a possible 43.
You can not expect to win trophies when one of your best players, and potentially your most important, is only starting 60% of the games.
It is not easy replacing someone like Partey.
We tried in January to sign Moises Caicedo, but couldn’t get the huge deal over the line. In the summer, Declan Rice will be our number one target. The only other man in the Premier League that can do what Partey does is Rodri. And I doubt Man City will sell us him!
It is important that we keep the core group of players together into next season. But we also need to build on the team and the squad. Solving the Partey problem might not improve us in individual games, but will improve us over the course of the season.
Declan Rice incoming….
I agree Partey’s form has dropped and he’s probably carrying an injury. It’s not helping that the back line has dropped off a couple of yards to cover for the absence of Saliba, there’s suddenly a lot more space between defence and midfield. We further compounded the issue against Southampton by playing the lightweight and ineffectual Viera, Partey also had to go back to collect the ball from Holding. Loss of Saliba has been fundamental in contributing to our recent dropped points, our distribution and defensive line has suffered. I fear for us against City if we go in with the same line up, Arteta must change it, find a way to get White into the centre of defence or maybe even sacrifice Odegard or Jesus for Jorghino. 🤞
That`s a very good point about Saliba`s absence. His pace and athleticism allows us to squeeze up and play 4 or 5 yards higher up the park. Our attacking players are still pressing high but our defence has dropped deeper to cover for Holding`s lack of pace and it`s leaving massive gaps between the lines. No matter how good you are, one man can`t cover those type of spaces.
Your Jorghino shout is a good one as well but I think it would have to be Odegaard who is sacrificed and that would be a hell of a shout at this stage of the season considering how good he`s been. I thought the Southampton game also showcased how important Xhaka is to this side, he`s the player who most helps give the team their balance. Whenever, he`s missing we`re all over the place.