You’ve got to fight for your right to Partey…
Arsene loved his midfielders more than any other positions, and he had so many (potentially) good ones over the years. In a way we were spoiled with all this talent at our club but we have also suffered at the hands of Arsene’s inadvertently poor choices, especially in the last decade. The problem with most of them was their lack of fitness/robustness to survive game after game in the PL.
Most of our midfielders in the last 15 years or so either went too early or were far too injury-prone to become part of a title-challenging team. Cesc, Hleb and Nasri went far too early, Ramsey never became a reliable player in our midfield, Diaby and Jack were such promising midfielders but it stayed with that, Song and Coquelin looked promising for a long time but were let go by Wenger and, sadly, I can mention more unsuccessful Arsenal midfield sagas.
Emery was given the talented and promising Torreira and inherited Xhaka and Ramsey. The former has not really established himself yet, but there is still time. The latter has left for the Juve as to sit out the best years of his life on the zebra-bench.
I know that not everybody rates Xhaka but all his managers have done and do. He may be a bit slow and now and again misplace a pass leading to danger, but he is the metronome of our team, our nerve centre, our heart/the pivot of the team. I am a massive fan and am convinced he will be strutting his stuff at the home of football for years to come. Arteta needs him and sees the Swiss maestro as his embodiment on the pitch.
There really is only one vacancy left in Arteta’s team and that is the position next to Granit the Great. Who is going to take it? This player needs to be able to do box to box footie, needs to able to defend and work closely with Granit when we sit back, and he needs to link up with attack constantly. He also need to have the physical strength and discipline to stay fit for at least 30 PL games. Xhaka sits back naturally and his team mate needs to be drawn forwards without forgetting his defensive duties.
Joe W looks made for this but needs to grow into the role. Ceballos is showing promise in recent games so he MAY be the answer; it is a big decision for Mikel to make regarding making Real an offer they cannot refuse… I am still not sure he is the answer, but if Mikel goes for him…
Lucas could still come good and Granit rates him a lot, but this combo has not really worked well as the Uruguayan also likes to sit a bit deeper naturally. AMN has a lot of potential but just like Joe he is a young work in progress.
So if Arteta goes with Ceballos then we should be covered in all areas, but if not he will need to buy, if at all possible given our financial position in the C-19 era. The name of Atletico Madrid’s Partey is mentioned and he may well be the answer. Some believe he would be a replacement for Xhaka but I think he is much more likely to be an ideal box to box player, and would sit next to Granit.
Not that Granit will not venture forward ocassionally. Arteta wants all his central midfielders to move into the box at times and try and finish off an attack. Xhaka did so recently and it was a welcome sight. The man has also a howitzer of a left foot that has been underused far too long.
But from the videos I have seen of Partey and his stats – 1.7 dribbles per game, 0.8 key passes per game – he looks like the ideal replacement of Ramsey. No doubt he could also play instead of Xhaka when required, as his defensive stats are good too, but to me he looks like somebody who would be the final link in Arteta’s midfield and with that the team.
Our current midfielders have a good chance in the remainder of the season to convince Arteta they have the right to party in the team next season. They better take it.