Partey Gives Arteta Options: Not Ozil But Another Unloved Midfielder to Benefit

Mikel has got his man. Now he can play football the Arseteta Way. He has a vision and he knows what he needs: he has got it now.

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Signing super-talent Saka was key – the biggest Arsenal talent since Cesc. Getting Willian was shrewd – free and PL/CL experience. Auba staying was a statement – it meant that Mikel’s vision was mesmerising. Gabriel the Rock was another vital purchase. But now he really can get this Partey started.

Some will dream that Ozil will somehow reappear now and will get back in the hole from the one he dug for himself, but I think football has moved on. We don’t need a supersalesman, we need commercially minded, multi-skilled account managers. Everybody can play a key pass, produce an assist and score a goal up-front, and we need that unpredictability, that extra dimension.

For me, the issue is not that we did not have a creative player up-front of (former)Ozilesque or KdBruine-esque quality, but the lack of pressure and numbers in and around the opposition’s box. We sat too deep and did not push up enough, leaving the attacking moves to the ‘specialists’. The game v the Blades showed this very clearly. It was dire in the first half, but then we pushed up in the second half and soon the chances came. Bellerin had the assists, Auba had THE key pass for our first goal, Saka and Pepe scored. The much patronized Elneny had half a role in these goals too.

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I grew up watching the Ajax machine in full swing: everybody could score, assist or play the key pass. Total Football. And then there was Wengerball when we had the perfect balance ourselves: goals, key passes and assists from everywhere. It was party football and the opponent did not know how to stop us. I reckon Arteta wants to return this to the home of football.

Partey will give Arteta options to tweak the formation per game but, most importantly, it will give us also the opportunity to push up and not worry too much about the space we leave behind. This will not happen overnight of course. Partey’s impact may not be really felt till come February. Evolution takes time. Key to all of this is his mobility, intelligence, excellent passing ability and athleticism. He will help us to better connect defence with midfield and midfield with attack. If we then dare to push up and play more in the opponent’s half…. we should see real progress with more chances and goals, and better football.

I know there are still some Xhaka-haters out there, but I have got to disappoint you: Partey will not replace Granit but help him to be the beast of a midfield-organiser he is. We will see the very best now of Xhaka:

Partey will allow Xhaka to push up and spray his one-touch passes where they can do most damage – as he does for the Swiss national team so often (watch him v Spain and Germany this fortnight!). With our strong use of the wings we need to get the ball there quickly. Xhaka loves this. Partey can be that holding midfielder in a 4-1-2-3 formation that allows not one but two to play in front of him. Willian was also sold Mikel’s vision, and I expect that this included him playing more centrally. But Partey is also a good passer of the ball, short and long, so Arteta has that added dimension in midfield. I can also see Xhaka play the deeper role and Partey and Ceballos play in front of him. I have salivated all over my jumper now:

But I can also see us stick to 3-4-3 this season as it makes best use of Luiz’s leadership skills without him being exposed too much. We have an army of CBs in the team so we may as well use them! It would make sense as the team is used to this formation and we have really good quality players in all positions – in fact we have two for each position (GK is still a guess, though). And the likes of AMN, Eddie, Chambers, Mari, Kola, Nelson, ESR etc will also put further ‘good pressure’ on this squad. Once again, it is of course key to push up the team and play much more compact in the opposition’s half.

The big point is that Partey will give Arteta options and we will now see the best from the likes of Xhaka, Laca and Saka as well as Luiz. Let’s give it some time but boy this looks promising!

By TotalArsenal.

66 thoughts on “Partey Gives Arteta Options: Not Ozil But Another Unloved Midfielder to Benefit

  • PB, wrote in previous post:

    “I hope that Partey will become as good as you all claim, but he was definitely not cheap.

    The 45M (which was seen to rose to 54M with VAT, and agent fees) is a hell lot of money for a defensive midfielder. Let’s keep in mind that this is not the same market as it was a year ago.

    He was the 10th most expensive summer transfer this window, the 5th most expensive midfielder and the 2nd most expensive DM behind only Miralem Pjanic. And what makes him even more expensive is his astronomical salary. It varies depending on different news sources, but it is reported to be between Ł220.000 and Ł250.000 making him the 8th-9th highest earning footballer of the Premier League. And besides Pogba and De Gea there are only attackers (ST, W, AM) ahead of him, so he is the PL’s top earning DM and the world’s second slightly behind Sergio Busquets. If he is the greatest defensive midfielder on the planet that salary could be justified, but according to some lists he is not exactly top 10.

    OK, this SportsShow site is clearly bull, with Dier and Matic on the list, but my point is that we are celebrating as if we signed Messi or Mbappe, while Thomas is “only” the 12th most valuable DM. And players like Kimmich, Fabinho, Neves, Ndidi, Zakaria and co cost a lot less (often a fraction) and earn half as much as Partey.

    I don’t want to spoil the fun, and I agree to be optimistic with this marquis signing (as well as having high expectations), but don’t lose the ground of reason in the process.

    By the way Torreira is the world’s 15th most valuable defensive midfielder, who was worth 5M (50M) more than Partey (45M) a year ago. And we bought him for 27M with a 75k weekly salary. Now that was a transfer masterstroke. And with full agreement with Jnyc: it is a shame that after a great start under Emery it didn’t work out between Lucas and Arteta.”

  • Thanks PB, you make valid points. It is a big and expensive signing and it may not work out. I dont like those sites that think they can somehow put value to players and rank them. The club have given this much thought and Mikel got his man. He was an intelligent central midfielder who played in all the postions… I think he knows what he needs and there was no way we could get him cheaper. As per the post, I reckon he is worth every penny as he will help Mikel to transform the team.

  • I like what Paul Merson said something along the lines that we now have a midfielder who will play the role of a holding midfielder and not go racing all over the park.

  • I read that too, Sandy. ALthough, I don’t rate Merson’s commentary in general, he had a point. Positional discipline is key and that is why the likes of Elneny get a chance by Mikel. He may not be the best midfielder you ever see but he will stick to the remit. I expect Partey to do the same but with a few extra qualities to spare.

  • You talked about the importance of energy and commitment in games as reason why Ozil is not a modern footballer and may find it hard to get game time ,but surprisingly you backed Xhaka to benefit from the presence of Partey, this I don’t understand , in my opinion Xhaka is nowhere near Ozil both technically and energy wise.

  • He’s an enforcer but he’s also box-to-box. Not entirely sure why people are worrying themselves over how much he cost and how much he’s being paid to be honest. Thomas Partey changes not only the game but the landscape. Mark my words. Peace.

  • It does seem a lot of money. I like torreira he is tenacious & still young but Arteta possibly sees him as not offering quite enough to be a starter in the system he wants to employ?
    I think extra height and athleticism are needed if you are only playing a recognised 2 in midfield.
    Granit & Dani C while not being the most athletic are both taller & far better passers than Lucas T.
    Im thinking Partey just offers more allround than Lucas T.
    It could take us more in the direction of a Petit/Viera style dovetale?
    I dont think him & either Granit Or Dani C will reach those levels but can certainly see why Arteta would choose a player like Partey over Lucas T.

  • Just to add that he Could also fit nicely into a 433 if that is the way Arteta decides to go in the future.

  • Nickolaj Moller looks an interesting signing, 18 years old Swede, 6’ 3” in old money, obviously very good in the air, something we currently lack, could be a dark horse arriving whilst all the glare is on Big Tom?

  • That triangle of the midfield center could be better with two deep lying midfielder and with one one attacking midfielder. Xhaka and Partey in deep lying role and Ceballos in attacking role.
    Partey is also good in transition phase bringing the ball up that’s deep lying role is good to him.

    With two deep lying midfielders we have steel in front of the defence and attacking midfielder which can give pressure to opponent with or without ball. The team could finally be able to fight for the midfield which they have been loosing way too easily.

  • SG, I think Ozil is a specialist who needs to play as nr10 to be effective. I loved him for what he had to offer but I reckon football has moved on and nr.10 are obsolete now. Xhaka is a completely different player, not sure why you are making the comparison tbh.

  • Blink, I loved LT but the PL is soooo physical and however much he compensated with sheer will and bravery, his body seemed a bit too fragile to keep doing what he needed to do. Shame.

  • Hello, people! 🙂

    TA, we signed a gem of a player and you made another gem of an article. Congrats! 🙂

    Yes, Thomas gives us a new dimension. What I’m surprised is, everyone has been using Partey-related puns while nobody picked up Thomas-related puns, especially given our 1989 unforgettable story. I will start with those puns as it was up for grabs anyway. 🙂

    Pb wrote something that I have to comment on:

    “He was the 10th most expensive summer transfer this window, the 5th most expensive midfielder and the 2nd most expensive DM behind only Miralem Pjanic.”

    Now, you can call me a picky one but Partey and Pjanić are completely different when it comes to DM position. Pjanić is more of a Pirlo-type, strong with the ball and a set-piece specialist which impact is expected to be seen in front of the opponents’ goal. Those players are usually more expensive just like attackers are generally more expensive than defenders (even if there are fewer good defenders than strikers).

    Partey comes from the most rigid structure you can imagine and his main goal will be to help Xhaka and Ceballos/ESR/Saka/Özil/Willian to think about creating something in the final third. I fully expect him to take his place on the right side of our midfield pivot with Xhaka playing on the left so that Arteta’s OCD regarding players’ footedness is pleased. 🙂 That being said, I don’t think he’ll just sit deep and kill whoever tries to go at Leno’s goal – there will be moments when Xhaka will sit deeper while Partey uses his athleticism and ball control to get ball forward in a B2B role.

  • You summed it up well, Johannes! Ceballos in front or Saka, or Willian… We have options there now. I dont think we were ever after Aouar to be honest.

  • Arteta knows what he want thats why he waited for the last minute to activate that hefty release clause, we hope his plan work-out greatly.

  • Agreed though, Admir. Elneny is a great nr.2 in the Partey position. We are lucky to have him as he will not complain about not being nr.1. But Partey and Xhaka is the dream duo, and I can see Ceballos replacing Xhaka more often, as to give the Swiss competition AND not overuse him. Ceballos in front of the two in a flatter midfield three is also possible but I don’t think we will play with a typical nr.10 anymore…

  • what I had not realised until this morning is that the next TW will open in just 12 weeks time, ten weeks from after the international break. So that will be a good opportunity to send a few out on loan and earn some money back for the Partey bill.

  • Well … at last this transfer nonsense is over and done with
    I can’t say the €50m signing of a 28-y-o midfielder makes me feel over the moon, tbh, and I agree with most (not to say all) pb’s reservations.
    Actually I can’t figure out how one more DM will make us win more easily both away and home games against teams between the 7th and the 20th spot in the league. Moreover we should add up to these 50m, the wage bills of the 2 NHG players who won’t be picked in our 25-man squad (and one of them – it breaks my heart, really – is bound to be Mesut, whom you have written off so ruthlessly, TA; the other might be Big Sok).
    Anyway, the bright side of this is that the Partey-Xhaka partnership might prove to be the nearest thing we’ve had to Vieira-Petit, ever since the French pair was torn apart (and although what I’ve seen of Partey – between 5 and 10 games, I don’t know – hasn’t convinced me he is anywhere as influential as Big Pat was, but then again, who is?). But Thomas’s a good player, there’s no question about that, so welcome to him.
    And at least, for someone like me who can’t stand this transfer hysteria, I had a good laugh about all this, eventually:

  • Re Ozil.. I have given him the benefit of the doubt for many, many years and have defended him on here all the way. But I listen to Arteta and think he is a decent guy who will give players a chance if they buy into his philosophy and are willing to work hard. Arteta is not happy about Ozil and I have reached the point in which I have changed my mind on Ozil. But I have also changed my mind on the need for a free and easy nr10 who produces 15 assists a season, as per the post.

  • Not at all, TA.
    I wasn’t doubting Partey, even though under this thread and out of context it could seem like it.
    But below your previous post (with the player ratings) there were multiple opinions that signing Thomas for 45M+VAT was a steal and what a transfer masterstroke it was to get a world class player for so cheap.

    In my comment – of which I’m grateful you brought over – I was merely arguing that Partey wasn’t cheap by any means (neither CAPEX nor OPEX point of view). But I honestly agree that we bought a good player for a lot of money, no question about that. You made very good points on that Partey does not only bring his own skills to the Emirates but also helps Arteta to bring more out of his existing players. Nevertheless the ultimate transfer masterstroke is not to buy him for 50M + 12M a year but rather buying Kimmich for 8M, signing Salah & Mané for 37M, Oblak for 14M, etc. We bought Thomas on his prime, but that also means he will never have a market value over 60M (probably 50M either), while Martinelli and Gabriel M. could reach that milestone in a couple of years…

  • Addition of Thomas Partey makes everyone more effective in their best roles. Where other players had been restricted, in having to perform a role or duties to plaster over a flaw elsewhere– or to cover a position that was their second-best? Number 18 is here to make his teammates freer, to be better. This also gives the squad more depth, in more positions. Allows Arteta to define his teams in terms of cup matches.

    The player I feel might benefit most from Thomas’ presence– is David Luiz. Luiz has already been much better this season. If only from being partnered consistently with known commodities next to him. With a domineering presence anchoring in front of the defense– Luiz’s organizational abilities will be honed sharper– if by nothing else– having less to attend to.

    Arsenal finally get their man in MF. Mikel Arteta knows so well how to deploy him.
    The club just became so much better– with much greater potential.


  • Just reading the post Total and I nearly dropped my cuppa when you got to your jumper, I did chuckle and yes it’s a kind of evolution isn’t it, Johann Cruyff to Barcelona, Tiki Taka, Louis Van Gaal (twice), then Frank Rikaard, Pep Guardiola learnt under the men from the Nederlands and he then took what he learnt to another level blending it with his Spanish elan, a spell in the Bundesliga before he came to England to pass all this knowledge onto Mikel Arteta, a man who had Wenger and many more who he could take knowledge from and we are now the recipients of this knowledge, all the way from Amsterdam via Spain & Scotland to London North 5…

  • I was only joking, PB, and good for you to put it in perspective in terms of costs. He does not come cheap and is not a typical Wenger signing as such. I guess those will come once we are back in the top four/CL again and that is when we will also sell a player for a lot of money much easier. First we need to invest to get there, and I think that is why the club is buying quality this time round (Willian and Partey… Gabriel and Saliba, Saka and Tierney are the opposite sort of signings: big potential to sell on for loads of money in the future (not that I want this).

  • To call Thomas Partey a D/M or a B2B player doesn’t do him justice, apparently he plays as a No.10 for Ghana, he doesn’t sit in front of the back four/three/five (we’ll be using all of those and probably during a game) he will dominate the centre circle, he is the presence we’ve lacked since Paddy left and Paddy wasn’t just a D/M either, he is a player who can do all the jobs, he can work the coal face and he can play the killer ball, he could be as transformative to Arsenal as VVD has been for Liverpool? And now I’m salivating….

  • Can anyone remember what we had to pay Citeh for Arteta? If you think about it… Pep is not the sort of guy who stays long and builds up a legacy at a club. He seems to want to but a goose gets itchy once the leaves start to colour and find their way down. So Arteta would have been the obvious successor but Arsenal claimed their son back… Don’t you just love it?!

  • Back in the early, mid eighties me and my friends listened to hard rock and we loved it, and then came Metallica to the scene and it was similar to your description of the impact Johan Cruijff. It was just different, fatter, faster, heavier and we loved it.

  • “So Arteta would have been the obvious successor but Arsenal claimed their son back… Don’t you just love it?!”

    Conventional wisdom? Appears as if hindsight– were always and obviously so.
    Visionaries? Come off as kooks– until time catches up to the concept.



  • Another site I frequent, the curator there has advance access to passages from the soon to be released Arsene Wenger autobiography. Thought this was worth a share:


    ” We had all endeavored to develop a unique spirit specific to that particular team. A performance culture. Each player had to have a clear picture of areas that needed improving. This was the moment the team really integrated the values I felt were important: suddenly, my project became theirs and they ran with it for 49 matches. I remember that everything was important at that time, everything had to function to put us in a state of mind where all we thought about was the game and winning.”

    “During that time, I discovered something wonderful: we were no longer afraid of defeat. And with that fear removed, we could be better. We concentrated solely on what could make us win. And so I discovered another aspect of the job that I really loved and that made me even more passionate about it. Every day we had to become even more resolute about maintaining our shared expectations.”

    “We became Premier League champions five matches before the end of the season. But I did not want us to stop with that win. I thought we should maintain our effort, our expectations, and that this dream of a life without defeat should continue. I congratulated them for the win but said it was not enough: that they could, we could, become immortal by continuing to win. They hung on until the 50th match, and they do know it now: they are immortal.”

    Arsenal again have a manager capable. Of leading a team where– they do not fear defeat.


  • Morning all,

    I know absolutely nothing about Partey but if Arteta and Edu are happy then I’m happy to sit back and watch his development at Arsenal.

  • have just read this:
    interesting (and not negative, which is a rare thing in the guardian when arsenal’s at stake)
    it suggests atleti might not have got the best of the lad, because of simeone’s miltary regime (i’m not a fan of simeone’s). it would make sense and account for the feeling I got of a player on a leash the few times I saw him play
    mikel will fix this, no doubt – i do believe there is potential in his partnership with granit; if only for the lad, and because of his price tag, i just don’t want us to set our expectations too high

  • TA,

    Still lurking and off to work soon after starting at home. But, a quick comment to all the good ones, this time on the cost. A different viewpoint.

    Partey is the full deal and I believe he will do very well in the modern PL and for Arsenal. Why pay so much when you can buy smartly and be a touch patient is another viewpoint (eg Pepe, Martinelli, and likely Saliba, Eddie, AMN even? and Saka, and others)?

    My take is we cannot be patient. It is also, per above, we have been patient. We need to show a definitive lift this year. Trophies are nice, but even if we do not make top 4, we have to look like we are on that road. Hence, Auba re-upped, Willian on a free, Luiz still here. We need that lift, and all you wrote about Partey, I think will help us (and I agree).

    Thinking 2 Liverpool’s ago we lost 3-1 (and does it seem we play Pool every third game lately!? :-)), and part of that was we were outclassed. But, part of that outclassing was they didnt really hit a wall until our back line. Now that wall will be far firmer up field, and has the talent across it (or more so) to punish your mistakes in a part of the field that will hurt you rapidly.

    So, high cost, yes. But, we need a direct lift now, and this could well be it.

    cheers — jgc

  • Thanks for that JW although I found it hard to follow as I’m not a computer operative like most of you fellas, in fact I still use parchment and a quill. 😉

  • Brilliant post T, really.
    One small quibble is, I don’t think Partey will be allowing Xhaka to move up higher as you describe, because Partey is more mobile himself.

    It’s true that he’ll defend a lot (from scouting reports I’ve read, and some videos), but it’s more likely he will push up farther past opponents, (and through some, it seems). Evidence of my view is what we’ve seen when Xhaka and Elneny start in Arteta’s conservative set up. Even with a disciplined, consistent, and stationary dm Elneny next to him, Xhaka hasn’t ventured forward much except when we’ve been chasing.

    I see you have at wingback Tierney, out of the back 3 (please, as soon as is possible). Even though he’s excellent at lcb, we’re wasting an incredible attacking threat there. Imagine someone like Alexander Arnold not being used as a fullback and losing all of those assists and goals.

    To all the talk of Parteys salary. Even if from good sources, I don’t believe it at all. They don’t pay as well over there, and word is that he was one of the lowest paid at Atletico. So we could easily have doubled his salary and it wouldn’t be close to the rumoured numbers. The only reason he would agree to leave strong champions league contenders to go to a rebuilding team in the spurs tournament. Yes, I called it that. We can win it or try to win it, but the natural order will soon be restored. Arsenal top 4 soon, and title contenders also. If all goes well, Barca will come for Arteta in a few years, where his star player will be…….
    Mateo Guendouzi.

    I’m not getting ahead of myself, am I?

  • Morning fine gents and ladies

    Great to wake up to comments from our American-Kiwi, Big Apple J, Night Rider K, and the Rocker of Rouen!

  • Good point on the need to showing everyone that Arsenal mean business, Geoff. I like the analogy of the (moving) wall and even though I happy with the Xhaka-Elneny wall, I reckon Partey will give us extra strength and option in the ‘wall’.

    How is life treating you and are you fully New Zealand bound right now or still travelling a lot?

  • That is a good point, J. Arteta described Partey as somebody who can play in front of the back four, but I agree that he has a lot of mobility and is more likely to be the one to play in front of Xhaka than vice versa. It could also be that they take it in turns: Partey more forcefully and Xhaka more stealthily…

  • Agreed re Tierney and the salary Partey is reportedly getting is a club matter. Market value determines this and yes we pay a premium for attracting CL players.

    Big statement re Guendouzi there J. I hope for him you are right. There is potential, I give you that, but I could also see him finishing his career at Bolton or Blackpool, Le Havre or Stuttgarter Kickers 🙂

  • TA,

    NZ is (again) utterly Covid-free in the community and just those returning and in quarantine hotels. Admittedly, it’s easier to be brilliant with 1500-10,000 km of rather rough ocean between you and others. So, I have not been on a long haul airplane for the longest period since 1999, long haul defined as 6 hours or more. I am still traveling within NZ but much less. Very quietly, lockdown and this enforced break have been good for my diet and fitness, and a chance to reset to some better habits – knowing full well many many others dont have it so well.

    Regarding Partey and a further thought, both he and Xhaka have a long range cannon, thus with even one forward, it forces defenses in a low block to come out more because unlike others he is deadly out to say 25-30m. Imagine pulling a central defender forward, opening a gap from a side anlge, for Auba to sweep in (and does he not look Henry-esque coming in from the left and culring it in far post?). A long threat, where you need two (one up one back) will help us break or deform low blocks, perhaps, especially if he is as good passing as is said.

    I liked what I heard months ago, and he sounds like he might have some modern day Vieira nastiness in him, that, going way back “Presence!” thing… We will see..

    cheers — jgc

  • That sounds good, Geoff. I like your positive take whilst recognising that it is hard for many other people. I am most jealous of NZ’s fine leader. What a woman!

    Good call about (your theme) ‘presence’ . Xhaka has stopped more or less shooting from distance as I am sure the manager has told him not to do it unless he feels really good about it. But I agree that (the thread of) it is important.

    Are you involved at all in C19 strategies, risk calculations etc?

  • TA,

    Thanks, very much so for C19, in fact it is 1am here and I am in an international zoom on technology solutions for addressing C19 issues. I am in fact, in some ways, busier than ever, and a lot of other things, including how to double ventilator usage safely and effectively, active masks that offer therapeutic benefit to COPD patients while also allowing hospital examinaiton without removing masks, digital clones to personalise and automate treatment…

    One example if you want some sleep help is here:

    So, busy there and in some policy arenas with various departments of homeland security or home office, who see C19 as a major issue and I represent NZ in those discussions.

    So, I have replaced late night zoom for airplanes? 😀

    cheers — jgc

  • Interesting comments as ever J and yes it’ll be great to have Tierney returning onto our left wing back/ full back role although that may marginalise Maitland Niles and/ or Saka in a back three occasionally, not so a back four I’d imagine? Of course nothing is set in stone and what I thoroughly enjoy about this squad and it’s manager is it’s ability to change from game to game and morph during those matches to suit the circumstances they face, it’s a credit to the manager, his intelligence and the intelligence of our squad.

  • Great video too, Geoff, and I could follow it reasonably well too! I just hoped you had said midway through the video: “BTW you should check out for some great football insights” 🙂

  • “… although I found it hard to follow as I’m not a computer operative like most of you fellas…”

    In short Kev– the numbers and graphs and maps– agree with your assessment of Partey. 👌


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