Mikel Arteta set to unleash new-look £180m Arsenal midfield against Man City after injury boost

By Staff

As Arsenal approach the run-in to the season, things seem to be shaping up rather nicely. The Gunners head into the international break on top of the Premier League after leapfrogging Manchester City and Liverpool with victory over Brentford last week. They have also booked their place in the Champions League quarter-final for the first time in 14 years where they will face familiar foes Bayern Munich.

Despite how well things have been going though, there is a daunting look to the run in for Arsenal. Mikel Arteta’s side will have to travel to the Etihad Stadium, Old Trafford and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium where they realistically need as close to maximum points as possible if they are to win the league. Equally if they get beyond Bayern in the Champions League then they face a semi-final against one of Real Madrid or Manchester City.

With so many huge fixtures on the horizon, Arteta will be glad that most of his squad seem to be returning at just the right time from injury. Gabriel Jesus, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Fabio Vieira, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Emile Smith Rowe have all made comebacks from spells on the sidelines, while Jurrien Timber is set to feature in the business end of the campaign after being absent since August due to an ACL injury.

Another player who is set to finally feature more regularly during the run in is Thomas Partey. The Ghanaian has played just 41 minutes of football since August after a spate of muscle injuries, but returned to the squad prior to the international break for games against Sheffield United, Brentford and Porto.

Partey began the season at right-back, but it’s in midfield where he has made his name at Arsenal. Last season, the 30-year-old was pivotal in the number six position, and although Declan Rice has excelled there since his club-record transfer from West Ham, Arteta has suggested that the two can play together in midfield.

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“I will have to see that chemistry on the pitch and those qualities and the things we have to work around to make sure they play to their strengths and make each other better,” he said earlier this month. “But I think that it will be a very powerful midfield.”

We have seen a glimpse of what that could look like already this season. As Arsenal claimed Community Shield victory in August, Partey started in the deep lying midfield position with Rice further forward in the eight role alongside Martin Odegaard.

This is something Arsenal have replicated recently in big games, with Jorginho filling in for Partey. Rice has benefitted by being able to add goals to his game, while Odegaard has been in arguably the form of his Arsenal career. As a trio it’s probably the closest the Gunners have to midfield featuring Granit Xhaka that nearly won them the Premier League title last season, and Arteta feels it could have a role to play between now and May.

“I think they only played in the Community Shield together in midfield that tells you how much we have missed Thomas,” the Spaniard said. “To play the whole season, and a player like him who has not played much with us, the impact he can have for the next 3 months can be really big.”

With Kai Havertz having also excelled in midfield this season, and Jorginho now so pivotal that he’s set to be offered a new contract, it remains to be seen how often we’ll get to see this much anticipated midfield trio. But with crucial games coming up between now and the end of the season, having such a quality grouping to call upon, may be exactly the boost Arsenal need to get over the line.

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