There would have been sighs of relief in North London when it was finally announced on Deadline Day that Thomas Partey had signed for Arsenal from Atlético Madrid. Gunners fans have been calling out for a more physical defensive presence in midfield, and that’s just what they’ve got with the arrival of Partey, who had spent his whole career at the Spanish club (aside from a couple of loan moves) up until now.
Arsenal’s midfield has long been a problem area, with teams finding it too easy to overpower them in the middle of the park. A good example was the recent game against Liverpool at Anfield, where the home side stifled Arsenal’s midfield and dominated the match as a result, running out 3-1 winners in the end. If Arsenal want to be taken more seriously in the Premier League betting on Betfair Exchange, then they need to shore up that area of the field.
The arrival of Partey should bring a greater degree of control and physicality to proceedings. After all, he has spent the most part of his career being coached by Diego Simeone, who is a master at instilling the perfect blend of passion and disciple into this players. At 27, Partey should be just entering the peak of his powers.
It will be interesting to see who Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta partners Partey up with in midfield, and who will make way for the Ghanaian international. He may attempt to play a steely combination of Partey and Granit Xhaka, or he may favour the creativity of Dani Ceballos in the centre of midfield. Arteta has recently been favouring the services of Mohamed Elneny, but you would expect the arrival of Partey to be an upgrade on the Egyptian. Joe Willock is another option in that area of the field, so there are plenty of good selection headaches for the Arsenal boss.
It remains to be seen how quickly Partey can adapt to life in the Premier League. Having played in Spain for his whole career, it will be a challenge to adapt to the increased speed and physicality of the English top flight, and it will be important for Arsenal fans to have patience with their new signing.
One interesting aspect of matches being played behind closed doors is that it slightly takes the pressure off new signings to perform, due to the absence of the crowd cheering or jeering their every move. Partey will hope to benefit from this, and find his feet so that when Arsenal’s supporters are allowed back into the Emirates Stadium, they’ll be singing the praises of the 27-year-old.
The overarching goal for Arsenal this year is, of course, to qualify for the Champions League, something they have failed to do since they were knocked out at the last 16 stage of the competition in humiliating fashion by Bayern Munich in the 2016-17 season. Partey is a player who brings Champions League experience, having been in the Atlético squad which reached the final in 2016. That could prove vital if they do make their way back into Europe’s elite competition.
Arsenal fans will simply be delighted that they managed to bring in a player who will automatically improve their starting eleven and increase their strength and resolve in the middle of the park. The next challenge is turning that improvement into a sustained challenge for Champions League football.