What Arsenal fans should expect from Thomas Partey 3 months ago

What Arsenal fans should expect from Thomas Partey

Welcome to the Partey

After months of dithering, a failed attempt at signing Houssem Aouar, another failed attempt at signing Jorginho and with the clock ticking down, Arsenal finally bit the bullet and triggered Thomas Partey's release clause. AtlΓ©tico were supposedly furious they had not been approached before the league informed them it had been activated, but were helpless to prevent the midfielder from leaving.

So Arsenal finally have a midfielder. But what will he bring to the team?

There is a misconception around Partey, that he is just a ball winner whose physicality is his best asset. This could not be further from the truth.

While excellent in both those respects, it’s what he does once he wins the ball that should get Arsenal fans excited. He can dribble out of tight spaces and play a line breaking pass better than most midfielders.

Take a look at his dominant performance against Liverpool in the Champions League last season. Note how often he wins a loose ball in a tight space and his first instinct is always to pass the ball forwards. If the pass isn't on, fine, he'll recycle possession.

At 1:24 in this video, he demonstrates his passing range, pinging an almost perfect diagonal pass to the onrushing Kieran Trippier, who doesn't quite make the right contact with the cross.

His speed of thought is best demonstrated at 2:23, when he receives the ball facing two Liverpool players pressing him. Instead of going backwards, he has the awareness to spot a passing lane to Angel Correa open up, and the composure to play the pass between the two onrushing Liverpool players and away from Gini Wijnaldum.

Playing in the middle of a midfield four under Simeone means he’s had to do a bit of everything, making him one of the most complete midfielders in Europe.

He can anchor a midfield if needed, he can charge forward and win the ball back, he can play pinpoint passes in behind, and even score the occasional long range shot, and do it all with more speed and precision than Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos.

Whether he plays in a midfield three with both Xhaka and Ceballos or partners one of them in a midfield two remains to be seen, but Arteta would be wise to play him in a two with Ceballos, who will be freed up to play higher up the pitch thanks to the added protection from Partey.

Technically excellent, positionally intelligent and with the vision and ability to play progressive passes, Arsenal have signed one of the best midfielders around. Welcome to the Partey.