As Mikel Arteta has impressively restored a sense of structure and sanity to Arsenal’s season as it looked to be ebbing away under the weight of poor results, individuals under-performing and general chaos, something has continued to nag away at him.
On deadline day in October, Arsenal delivered a sizeable transfer statement when they brought in Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid for £45million and fill a position of need for their head coach.
Partey was an established figure at Atletico, his competitiveness, energy, aggression and overall reading of the game and game management a key asset for Diego Simeone but Arsenal had managed to convince him that the Arteta project was more intriguing.
Unfortunately, for player, head coach and club, Partey has been largely unable to bring his attributes to the Gunners midfield as he’s been out of action across much of November and December due to thigh and hip injuries.
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It would have been a cruel fate for Arteta to have suffered his team falling apart without one of the pillars for his vision of the club but now, with four consecutive wins in league and cup and order restored, the Spaniard is filled with excitement and anticipation at what the Ghana international should add.
Having originally been pencilled in for Sunday’s FA Cup tie against Newcastle United, Partey has been given a few extra days training to ensure he’s not rushed back ahead of schedule – as was the case in December when he was taken off in the north London derby after pulling up – and is now primed to start against Crystal Palace on Thursday night.
“Absolutely and because obviously we are able to watch him in training,” Arteta said, when asked if he’s seen enough of Partey to indicate he will make an immediate impact on the team. “And who he is as well. I…