Thomas Partey looks set to miss several weeks of action with an aggravation of the right thigh injury he sustained earlier this season, according to Arsenal.com. The midfielder picked up the injury in the second half of the Gunners’ loss to Crystal Palace. Mikel Arteta initially attributed the problem to fatigue from international duty and the related travel.
The club revealed that Partey has “muscle damage to his right thigh” and will be consulting with specialists in the coming weeks to try to get him back on the pitch. According to Arsenal correspondent James Benge, sources close to Partey are “hopeful” that he will be able to return before the end of the season.
If there was a player Arsenal couldn’t afford to lose for an extended period of time, it would almost certainly be Thomas Partey, unfortunately. And that he’s set to miss time at the business end of the season when he was in top form (notwithstanding a lackluster first half against Palace), is near-disaster for the Gunners. Thomas is the engine that makes Arsenal go. Most everything that Mikel Arteta wants to do starts with him.
The $64,000 question is how Arteta adapts to Partey being out of the lineup. Does he try Sambi Lokonga in the same, single #6 role or does he revert to a double pivot that moves Granit Xhaka into a more conservative position to help the inexperienced Lokonga? My gut tells me that Arteta will go with the double pivot, play a responsible, defense-first style, and try to grind out one-goal results. Whether Arsenal can manage that without Kieran Tierney and whether they can generate goals with Alexandre Lacazette being out of form are two massive question marks.
Right now, there are a whole lot of questions to which we do not know the answers. At just about the worst time to have questions, too. We’re going to learn a lot about this squad and the manager in the run-in.