Why Partey allows Arteta great flexibility in midfield – Detailed Impact analysis of our new signings for future systems/tactics


Partey – A Game Changer


With the window closed, at least for international transfers and for those within the Premier League, now seems the perfect time to assess Arsenal’s Transfer Window.  Deadline day signing Thomas Partey may be a game-changer as it will impact how Arteta can play but this article examines not only the late additions but all our new arrivals. Is this enough to see this resurgent squad made a challenge for more honours? You may think so having read this review and if so and you want to back your team then why not  utilise free tips bet 365 bonus code


2020 summer transfer window signings

Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson

It was always going to be difficult in keeping two top-level goalkeepers at the club. Arsenal made the decision to let Emi Martinez leave, which meant that an adequate back up was needed for Leno.

Icelandic goalkeeper Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson was brought in from Dijon for a fee of £1 million. In terms of his shot-stopping ability, his save percentage last season was 57.8%, which is concerning. Regarding his ability to command his area, he lacks presence and authority. When you consider the physicality that many opposing teams in England possess, this is an area that he must certainly improve on.

For modern day goalkeepers, their ability on the ball is an essential requirement, particularly for teams who are looking to build attacks from the back and dominate possession. One positive about Rúnar is that he is strong with the ball at his feet and impressive with his distribution.

What does encourage me is that Inaki Cana Pavon, our goalkeeping coach, has previously worked with him at FC Nordsjælland, which suggests that Rúnarsson could develop well under his guidance. 

0 Runar-Alex-Runarsson


One of the key objectives in this window was to change the profile of our centre backs. The majority of our current crop within this department are too slow, lack presence, positionally poor, and are prone to errors. But with Gabriel, we have brought in a player who is tailored to the modern game and suits the style of football that Mikel Arteta is looking to implement. Commanding, good in 1v1 situations, positionally astute and reads the game well for someone who is still so young. In possession, the 6ft 3in Brazillian possesses the ability to break the lines with intricate passes and can also deliver long balls over the top. He and Saliba could eventually form a formidable partnership.


Mari and Cedric

We have seen Mari complete just two full games in our famous shirt. Judging from these performances, he looks like a good acquisition. 27 years old, left-footed, strong aerially, and comfortable in possession. Mikel Arteta knows the player well which gives me confidence that he could be an adequate addition.

Experience in certain areas of the squad was needed. Cedric provides us with this and although it’s not the most glamorous signing, we now have a selection of established right-backs to choose from. 



Experience, versatility, and trophy-winning mentality. This is exactly what our new number 12 provides. Statistically, he was very creative last season and for a free transfer, it’s good business, although I would have preferred a 2-year deal. Another positive from this transfer from my perspective is the knowledge that he possesses, which will certainly benefit the younger players within the squad.


Dani Ceballos

Under Arteta, particularly post lockdown, his performances have been consistent. Press resistant, comfortable in tight spaces, and a strong line breaker. His work rate and energy provided out of possession goes unnoticed as well. I beleive that we will see the Spaniard further develop many other aspects in his game under our exciting young manager.


Thomas Partey

Thomas Partey

A destroyer and a conductor. The Ghanaian international is a player who I desperately wanted the club to sign since 2018. The qualities that he possesses is exactly what we currently lack in midfield. Presence, physicality, and an incredible engine. Excellent passing range, brilliant dribbler and very press resistant. His traits in and out of possession allow us to play multiple systems as well as giving us flexibility with regards to our midfield choices. The diagrams below shows how impressive he is statistically when compared to both Xhaka and Ceballos.




Systems and formations going forward 

IMG 2884

IMG 2885

Now that there is clear knowledge of who we have available within the squad, we can analyse formations and tactics. Our current hybrid 3-4-3 system has been utilised to provide increased defensive solidity. But the qualities that Thomas Partey provides us with will give Arteta confidence that he can now transition his team to play with a back four in and out of possession.

Regarding the lineup, I expect to see  Luiz, Holding, or Mustafi play predominantly at right centre back. Reading into previous quotes from our manager, he clearly feels that Saliba currently isn’t ready for first-team action.

In terms of creativity, I think we will see us use the options shown in the above diagrams.  With Mesut Ozil’s continued absence from the squad, the onus will be on Ceballos, Saka and Willian to deliver. Emile Smith Rowe is a talent but isn’t ready to feature in highly competitive Premier League encounters, so I expect to see him gain much-needed experience in the Europa League.

Arteta firmly believes that his centre forward must be able to drop deep and play with their back to goal, hence why he is a big fan of Lacazette. Later in this piece, I will also discuss how we could operate with Aubameyang as the focal point.

Our shape when attacking through the left-hand side



Our shape when attacking through the right-hand side

Generally, we could attack in a variety of different ways. We could utilise our typical 2-3-5 system as we transition towards the oppositions final third and build passages of play through both the left and right-hand side. A common trend in our play is creating overloads through the left meaning Bellerin would be tasked to invert rather than overlap or underlap.


Our typical 2-3-5, biased towards the left, is clear to see here

But with Partey playing on the right-hand side of the midfield, the Ghanaian’s excellent positional awareness and defensive discipline will allow Bellerin to go forward and prevent Pepe from isolation. Some of Nicolas’s best performances in an Arsenal shirt have come when Hector has been given the freedom to advance forward.

Pepe and Bellerin partnership instrumental in our win against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final


Bellerin and Pepe pivotal in our FA Cup win against Chelsea in the final

Brilliant piece of combinational play between Bellerin and Pepe for our second goal against Sheffield United

Pragmatism is important and against the top teams (Liverpool, Manchester City e.c.t), I expect Arteta to resort to our hybrid 3-4-3 system and adopt the following formations.




Defensively/offensively we have had great success against the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool using this system. Partey would slot in perfectly because of his vast experience playing in a low block system.


5-4-1 shape out of possession was key in nullifying the threats posed by Pep’s side


5-4-1 against Liverpool in the Community Shield

Our season will be defined against the teams we are expected to accumulate maximum points from. Against lesser opposition, we may see Arteta deploy Partey as the deepest midfielder and play with two attacking 8’s in Willian and Saka/ Ceballos. Although it’s not the Ghanaian’s best position, his versatility allows us to be flexible with our midfield choices.


Against teams who are not great on the counter such as Burnely, rather than attacking in a 2-3-5, we could adopt a similar system to our one used against Sheffield United last Sunday, which was a 3-1-6/2-2-6. We allowed Hector to overlap because Chris Wilder’s side isn’t effective in transition.




We deployed a 3-1-6/2-2-6 shape as we transitioned forward against Sheffield United

A key tactical tweak made by Arteta during the second half against Sheffield United was Aubameyang playing through the middle, with Pepe and Saka out wide. Essentially a 4-2-3-1, with Willian playing centrally. This is an option that we could go with in certain games. What was promising to see was that our Gaboneese talisman showcased his ability as a link player.



Great link play from Aubameyang during the build-up for our opening goal against Sheffield United

The question marks are still on how we address the lack of creativity within the side, using internal solutions. With regards to Willian, I believe that he is best suited to playing in a central role and given license to drift from right to left. Against Sheffield United, he was far more effective when we switched to a 4-2-3-1.


4-2-3-1 with Willian playing centrally

In our current system, we have seen Saka tucking into midfield and playing as the most advanced midfielder in possession. Despite his limited experience in this role, he has shown us that he can influence proceedings in between the lines. Playing Bukayo would also allow us to play a 5-4-1 out of possession as he can drop into left wing back. 


Brilliant pass from Saka in between the lines against West Ham

Ceballos has been effective when played in a pivot with Xhaka. But we may see him in a more advanced role, similar to the one that he plays in for the Spanish national team as one of two attacking 8’s in a 4-3-3.


The matchwinning assist against West Ham


A pass which splits open the Liverpool backline


Aubameyang very unlucky to not have gotten on the end of this great pass from Dani

Ceballos, Willian and Saka have all showed that they can be influential in between the lines. But the question marks are still there on whether they can consistently deliver in this role when called upon.

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One Response to Why Partey allows Arteta great flexibility in midfield – Detailed Impact analysis of our new signings for future systems/tactics

  1. Victor Thompson October 11, 2020 at 12:09 am #

    Disappointed that you have left AMN out of all your selections. He is fast, mobile and effective in defending or attacking. He has lately bloomed to the extent that he is now an England player. Southgate is giving him a chance because he is a manager`s dream – he brings versatility especially against tough opposition and therefore he can be moved around to fit any of Southgate`s formations.

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