It is quite evident that the 2021-22 campaign has ended on a bittersweet note for Arsenal and Thomas Partey had a major say in it, even when he did not take the field for the Gunners. Sure, there were some happy aspects but a few sad ones eclipsed their fate on the final day of the season after they missed out on the top-four spot.
The Gunners earlier seemed to be in pole position to join Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea in the Champions League next season. However, their dreary form towards the end narrowed down their chances as they fell to a few defeats, and now, have to be content with a Europa League spot.
Add to this a plethora of unavoidable events which caused manager Mikel Arteta’s ship to sink. Injuries to key players like Thomas Partey, Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, etc. further contributed to their plight. Partey’s injuries have cost Arsenal very much in the battle for top-four. The Ghanaian picked up a calf injury in Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace and they needed to carry on without his services for the rest of the season.
Thus, according to the Mirror, the Arsenal boss is set to move on from the over-reliance on Thomas Partey. It is clear that the right midfield signing is one of the main priorities for him in the upcoming summer transfer window. Arteta will also be going for a major overhaul and reconstructing the squad in order to prevent the squad from running out of steam in the business end of the next season.
Thomas Partey is the heart and engine of the midfield at Arsenal. The former Atletico Madrid midfielder had a mixed debut campaign in the Premier League. Nevertheless, he improved in his second season for the Gunners and started showing his money’s worth.
The Ghanaian is said to have a better dribbling rate and streaks ahead of his midfield partner, Granit Xhaka. He is also a more reliable option in the midfield who can beat the press with his superior talent. With his calm demeanour, he can work well under pressure and outrun his opponents to drive the play forward. Partey is also effective off the ball – shielding the defence extremely well. He has the ability to ghost past opponents, steal away their possession and get Arsenal to quickly switch from defensive to attacking mode.
Thomas Partey has posed to be a key component of Arteta’s midfield – an area of the pitch which is being considered to be critically weak for Arsenal right now. His lack of contributions (most of the time owing to his injury) has resulted in below-par performances from the Gunners, affecting the team as a whole as he is said to be a driving force in the middle of the park.
The midfielder had an amazing start to the 2021-22 season, but his absence ended up being a big loss for Mikel Arteta. Arsenal’s win ratio has fallen to 25% from 65% with the non-availability of Partey. Similarly, their goal-scoring ratio has decreased to 1.61 per match, and their goal conceding ratio has risen to 1.26 per match (stats via Premier League) this season.
How Can Mikel Arteta Overcome Thomas Partey’s Absence?
The 28-year-old has been an integral part of Arsenal’s turnaround during the 2021-22 campaign but has been out of the picture mostly. He has participated in only 24 (stats via Transfermarkt) of 38 league fixtures for the North London side this season. Despite having back-to-back victories over rivals Chelsea and Manchester United, they faced an uphill battle.
Arsenal were not in proper control in most of the games since Thomas Partey picked up a thigh injury. The rest of the campaign for Arteta’s men was pretty vulnerable too. Mikel Arteta (via Mirror) shed some light on just how important the 28-year-old midfielder is to the team:
“The win rate when Thomas is there is higher. It is something that is not good for us because in the last two seasons he has not been there as much as we want.”
“We need him to play in that role on his own, with the quality he brings and the experience that he brings. And the fact he brings things that are unique that we want.”
This is enough evidence that Arteta has been relying on the services of Partey a lot. His availability during the initial parts of the new season is definitely a race against time. However, the Spaniard must move on and address his dependency in the best possible manner. So, here are the three key alternatives Arteta can try:
1. Reshape The Midfield
As it is next to impossible to replace a player like Thomas Partey, Mikel Arteta can think of reshaping the midfield. Therefore, his concern about signing a midfielder this summer should come as no surprise. He must look to add a box-to-box midfielder to his wishlist – who could shield the defence as well as get the ball moving forward, someone who will bolster the engine room and bring some creativity in the middle of the park.
2. Upgrade The Squad
Arsenal’s 2021-22 season fell apart towards the end. Their dream of playing in the Champions League next season is over. The team that was nearly bossing their fellow rivals blew off their top-four lead in the blink of an eye, losing back-to-back games to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton.
The team performance degraded at quite an alarming speed and Arteta’s side clearly went flat, lifeless, and cold overnight during a crunch period. However, it is now of utmost importance for the North London side to address their tactical concerns and upgrade the team as a whole to prevent a similar collapse next season.
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3. Bring In Reinforcements
Arsenal have been lacking a player to cover for Thomas Partey and it will be difficult to find a like-for-like player. The cash-strapped Gunners have found themselves in a tricky market situation. Thus, finding players to improve the squad will be no easy task for Mikel Arteta’s side. They need to weigh their options carefully and then materialise a move in this upcoming summer transfer window. They need to be realistic and swoop up pocket-friendly signings if they want to avoid missing out on the Champions League again.
A number of players are on Arsenal’s radar. Arteta has even expressed his desire and interest to bring players who are in fine form and who could spice things up in the midfield at the Emirates Stadium next season.
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