Arteta admits Partey has struggled at Arsenal but backs midfielder to show his best
Mikel Arteta admitted Thomas Partey has struggled at times during his first season at Arsenal, as injuries have interrupted the midfielder’s rhythm.
Partey missed nearly a month with a thigh injury before making his return in December, only to suffer a new injury and be forced out another month.
Arteta, though, believes Partey is now close to his best after returning from his injury struggles.
What was said?
Asked if he thought Partey was getting close to his best, Arteta said: “I think so.
“Rhythm-wise he has struggled a little bit in the last few weeks because he hasn’t had enough training sessions or enough preparation because the league is so demanding.
“But you can see his quality, you can see the presence and the special qualities he provides to the team when he is on the pitch.
“I think it is just a fact of playing more games, getting some chemistry and understanding with his team-mates and getting as fit as he possibly can.”
The bigger picture
Partey joined the Gunners from Atletico Madrid for £45 million ($62m) on transfer deadline day in October, and was expected to be a key part of Arteta’s midfield.
Due to his aforementioned injury issues, however, the 27-year-old has started just 10 of the team’s 23 Premier League games since he joined.
Arsenal have failed to live up to expectations in 2020-21, currently sitting in 10th place in the league.
Arteta’s side have also advanced to the Europa League last 16, where they hold a 3-1 advantage over Olimpiacos after the first leg.
What’s next for Arsenal?
Arsenal will take on their north London rivals Tottenham on Sunday before facing Olimpiacos on Thursday in their last-16 second leg.
Olympiacos manager, Pedro Martins has accused Arsenal of influencing the referee after Gabriel Magalhaes restored their lead in the Europa League game on Thursday.
The Gunners faced the same opponents who eliminated them from the competition a year ago and they needed to banish the ghost of that agonising defeat.
Mikel Arteta’s side took the lead through Martin Odegaard, but the man whose goal eliminated the Gunners last year, Youssef El Arabi drew the hosts level.
21 minutes later, the Gunners restored their lead through a powerful header by Gabriel, assisted by Willian.
Mohamed Elneny would score another goal late on, but Martins feels Gabriel’s header shouldn’t have stood.
An Olympiacos player appeared to have been fouled in the lead up to the goal and Martins feels the referee should have penalised Arsenal because of that and cancelled the goal, but the Gunners influenced him.
“I think the referee was influenced by the reactions of the Arsenal people in their second goal and in many situations, which were in the vast majority in their favour and changed the balance of the match,” he said on his club’s website.
“(The referee) should have analysed the goal more before taking the decision (to let it stand).”