Arsenal legend Ian Wright believes that Thomas Partey’s presence in the middle of the park has aided Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe’s brilliant recent performances.
The Hale End boys have arguably been our best players this season. Their performances helped us get out of the slump we were in, and we are in sight of the Champions League places now thanks to them.
Saka and Smith Rowe will only get better. The duo are still 19 and 20 respectively, and with the right players around them, they can go on to become two of the best players in the country in the coming years.
Speaking of right players around them, Wright has heaped praise on Partey’s brilliant use of the ball. He claims that the Ghanaian’s ability to progress the ball forward has played a massive part in Saka and Smith Rowe’s recent success, and he isn’t wrong.
He said on Matchday Live on Optus Sport: “He’s a game-changer, simply because of the way he plays in midfield. He’s somebody that does not pass the ball sideways. He wants to pass it forward and that gets everybody forward.”
“If you’ve got players like Emile Smith Rowe and Saka in an area where they can both pick up the ball, progress with the ball and run with it, then all of a sudden you have their defenders running backwards.”
“You have people starting to make runs and you are starting to create, which we weren’t doing a few weeks back.”
Arsenal Insider’s view:
Partey has only started twice this year but he has made a massive difference in both of those games. His presence in the middle of the park offers all the protection our defence needs, and that allows our attackers to do their thing further up the pitch.
The former Atletico Madrid man’s ability on the ball is extremely underrated as well. As Wrighty said, he always looks forward and his assist to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the game against Newcastle was a perfect example.
Arsenal are a completely different side if Partey starts. The likes of Saka and Smith Rowe will have all the freedom they need to make a real impact in the final third, and they did exactly that against Southampton on Tuesday.