Thomas Partey is capable of delivering show-stopping performances for Arsenal on a regular basis, according to Mikel Arteta.
Partey delivered a dazzling display at Manchester United last season that had Roy Keane wishing the midfielder belonged to the Red Devils.
On Thursday, Arsenal were heading back to Old Trafford for another Premier League appointment, with former Atletico Madrid man Partey hoping to play a key role again.
Partey was highly impressive in Arsenal’s 1-0 win in November 2020, achieving team-highs in touches (85) and ball recoveries (11), while only Gabriel Magalhaes attempted more tackles.
Arsenal took the victory thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s penalty, but it was Partey who caught Keane’s eye, as the former United captain, working as a pundit for Sky Sports, described his efforts as “brilliant”.
“I thought he was outstanding. The more I look at him, the more I wish he was in United’s midfield,” Keane said.
Keane even compared Partey to Gunners great Patrick Vieira, but the Ghanaian has struggled to kick on and establish himself as a major Premier League force.
Arsenal manager Arteta, speaking ahead of the return to Old Trafford, pointed to a series of minor injuries as being factors in Partey’s progress being delayed as he recalled last year’s showing against United.
“First of all, he hasn’t had the consistency in terms of minutes and game play because the injuries have broken that in many, many occasions,” said Arteta.
“Then it’s the adaptation to the league, and you can see many, many examples of players who have come here and have needed some time.
“But he had a very early impact in that game, and what we are looking forward to is to have top performances consistently, and to do that he needs to be fit.”
Partey was a £45million acquisition from Atletico, with the 28-year-old having been a regular for several seasons in Diego Simeone’s team.
Arteta suggested Partey’s relaxed personality might be a misleading factor when it comes to assessing his appetite for success.
“He is laid back in the impression that he gives, but he is very demanding of himself. He has the right experience, and he’s won quite a lot already in his career,” Arteta said.
“That’s what I want from him and I think his peak at this club is still not where it is right now.”
Partey has started Arsenal’s last two Premier League games and clearly has a supporter in Arteta.
However, he has not managed as many touches of the ball in any of his outings with the Gunners this season as he had in his Keane-approved Old Trafford display, peaking with 81 against Newcastle United last time out.
Nor has he managed double figures in ball recoveries in any match, having done so in six games across all competitions last term.
There is some evidence that Arsenal are a stronger team for his presence though.
When Partey has played no part this season, Arsenal have lost three of four Premier League games. Those three losses were at the very start of the season, with Partey injured at the time.
However, when he has played an active role in league encounters, they have won six of nine, losing just once.