Thomas Partey was by far the biggest coup on the transfer deadline day as he switched to Arsenal for a fee of €50 million. It was a much-needed signing for Mikel Arteta, but questions are being raised as to how the Spaniard can get the best of the former Atletico Madrid midfielder.
Here, at The 4th Official, we will discuss how Mikel Arteta can lineup his midfield with Partey this season.
An Existing 3-4-3
Arteta is unlikely to shift away from his tried and tested 3-4-3 for the time being, given the success he has had so far this year. However, one major downside of this formation is that it offers only two central midfielders, with no additional player to provide a numerical advantage in the middle third of the pitch.
So the current shape will force Arteta to choose only two options between Granit Xhaka, Partey, Mohamed Elneny and Dani Ceballos. Assuming Partey is an automatic pick in the side, Ceballos seems like the best bet in the double-pivot.
The Spaniard has the technical prowess that should combine well with the robust nature of Partey. The 27-year-old’s better defensive coverage may even enable Ceballos to become more influential in the creative side of the game.
Going The Jose Mourinho Route
An alternative for Arteta right now is to switch to a back-four, with Gabriel Magalhaes and David Luiz forming the central defensive pairing and Kieran Tierney returning to his preferred left-back role.
While it could significantly affect Arsenal’s defensive balance in the side, it could simultaneously offer Arteta the privilege of starting three midfielders. This is exactly what Jose Mourinho is doing at Tottenham – using a double-pivot system while having an attack-minded midfielder like Tanguy Ndombele or Giovani Lo Celso as an auxiliary number ten in his 4-3-3 shape.
Arsenal could employ a similar system, with Xhaka and Partey forming the double-pivot, partnered by Ceballos, who can play further forward.
An Ambitious 4-1-4-1
Although unrealistic, it will be fascinating to see Arteta shifting to a 4-1-4-1, with Thomas Partey operating as the lone midfielder.
It is something that is used by Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United, with Kalvin Phillips appearing as the lynchpin in the middle of the park. Partey, too, has the positioning sense as well as the passing range to establish himself as the number six.
However, the Gunners do lack the presence of a more dynamic attacking midfielder other than Ceballos, meaning that they could find it difficult to fill the two spots in the number ten positions. Maybe someone like Bukayo Saka or Emile Smith Rowe can step in.