And the hits just keep on coming for the Gunners. In his postmatch press conference following Arsenal’s loss to Wolves, Mikel Arteta informed reporters that Thomas Partey’s thigh injury is worse than initially thought and that the Ghanaian midfielder will be out for the “next few games” at least. Partey picked up the injury against Aston Villa and was substituted off at halftime of that match, the last one before the international break.
Arsenal really miss Thomas Partey in the midfield. In his four starts for the club, Arsenal’s improvement was noticeable. It’s difficult to describe, but everything just worked better. The ball progression was quicker and more effective and the spacing made sense. He was also better than advertised off the ball, putting in more tackles and registering more ball recoveries than expected.
See that gigantic, glaring gap in the middle of the attacking third? With Partey in the lineup, that void isn’t nearly as significant — I’ve looked at the passing maps. Partey’s presence on the pitch and ability on the ball allows other players to take up positions in that critical space. Then Partey either makes the pass into that area himself or gets it to the guys who carry / pass it into that space.
It has to be frustrating for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal to get their guy, have him do exactly what they brought him into do, and then lose him for several weeks to injury. But that’s football, I suppose. In his brief time at the club, Partey has established himself as a critical piece in the setup, and his absence is noticeable.
Here’s hoping that even though it’s worse than initially thought, Thomas Partey’s thigh injury isn’t the type that lingers. Arsenal really can’t afford it.