On 7th Dec 2020, Arsenal played in their first North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, where the game was lost by half-time, with 2 goals courtesy of Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane.
The second goal in particular, drew significant media attention as Thomas Partey limped off to the sidelines right before half-time, leaving a huge gap in midfield which Tottenham exploited to score the goal. The 27-year old midfielder had already been struggling with injury 3 weeks prior to the London derby, but Arteta made a huge call to start him and it did not pay off.
In a press conference ahead of the game against Tottenham on Sunday, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta defended his decision to rush Partey back from injury.
“He ticked every box to be able to play in that game,” Arteta said. “After every injury there is a risk for a period, whether it is five days, a week, two weeks or three weeks depending on the load that the player is exposed to.
“But it was a really specific action where he just overstretched the area going to the floor and got his foot trapped and then he felt it again, before the game you cannot know that would have been the way.
“It would be easy to say: ‘Yes, we made a mistake’ – but who would have known if he had played the next game or if he had come off the bench and played 30 minutes instead?”
Thomas Partey signed for Arsenal on the transfer deadline day for £45 million but has been limited to just 16 appearances this season. It has been a slow start to life at the North London club but Arteta firmly believes that the Premier League will soon see the best of him.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Partey was fantastic in our victory over Spurs, and Arteta will be hoping that he keeps that form up for the rest of the season.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons