Former Premier League star Ben Foster has questioned why midfielder Thomas Partey started as a right-back in Arsenal’s victory over Nottingham Forest.
Mikel Arteta’s side were superb in the first half, but fell flat in the second period, securing a more nervous victory than anticipated.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Foster questioned why Arteta chose to move Partey into defence.
“Thomas Partey at right-back, everybody on the coach on the way to Wrexham were looking at it and saying what on earth is Thomas Partey doing there at right-back? He stated.”
“That’s just bonkers. But they got over the line. So I think that’s all that matters to Arsenal.”
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Did it work?
In this current Arsenal system, Partey is more than capable of filling in at right-back, and he had previously played in the position for Atletico Madrid.
Typically, White would line up on the right, with Oleksandr Zinchenko playing as an inverted left-back, who would tuck into midfield when in possession. With Zinchenko out, Timber moved to the left, and Partey inverted from the right.
Having Partey as an option on the right gives Arteta more tactical flexibility, with Declan Rice dropping to a deeper role and Kai Havertz moving into midfield. Arsenal were excellent in the first half, and a big factor in their performance was having Partey’s additional support on the right and tucking in.
Arsenal sustained pressure superbly, and Partey helped win and recycle the ball high up the pitch. Although it is not his natural position on paper, he has the tackling and passing ability to play an inverted full-back role like Zinchenko’s, when not starting in midfield.
Against tougher opponents, and away from home, Partey should perhaps move back to the midfield, but the Forest game was a good chance to experiment with this idea whilst Zinchenko was absent, and it worked well enough that we will likely see it again soon.