Last Saturday’s lunchtime’s goal fest at Villa Park, might have offered us an insight into what life without Thomas Partey could look like, in the short-term at least. As someone who’s views, I respect, suggested to me, with Jorginho playing at 6, Arsenal will have to outscore opponents, because we will concede goals.
The adopted Brazilian effectively won us the match against Villa, with the help of a certain ex Arsenal keeper, but he also was part of our shortcomings that allowed us to concede goals and opportunities for them.
In essence, to operate a system with a sole 6, which with Partey, is not only Arteta’s preferred system, but also the one on which this season’s success has been built, you, in simple terms, need a Thomas Partey. City have done it with Fernandinho and now Rodri, and Liverpool have done so with Fabinho, but these powerful, athletic, mobile midfielders, who can, not only break up play but also create, are in very short supply. You only have to have watched Liverpool this season without the experienced Brazilian to see the difficulty Arsenal could have without Partey for a sustained period.
Jorginho, has so many attributes to be admired, in his tenacity, his passing, his vocal presence and of course his invaluable winning mentality and experience. On the flipside though, he simply does not have the mobility in the defensive aspects, or the speed in transition of the elite Ghanaian.
This being the case, Arteta could tweak the system in Partey’s absence and ask Xhaka to play with the Italian in a more conventional 4231, leaving Odegaard as a more central 10, but you sense the Spaniard would sooner persevere with the system that has give his team the success this campaign.
Jorginho played his best football as the deepest midfielder, more as a playmaker operating in front of a back 3 for his country, most notably in Euro 21, and for Chelsea. He will not have that luxury playing for the Gunners, so you sense that more may be asked of the fullbacks, and both Zinchenko and White provided admirable support at times at Villa Park.
It might also be worth asking Aaron Ramsdale to use his longball accuracy more often, to mix it up and on occasion enable us to launch attacks from an alternative angle. We saw this notable asset used by the England keeper far more in his first campaign, before his manager began using Partey in his deeper role. Is this something we could see again while Jorginho deputises?
In short, Arsenal can thrive with Jorginho at 6 but he will need awareness and support from his centre backs and fullbacks, and he will certainly create opportunities for his new team if he has the platform offensively. You can see already that his new teammates value him and the new strengths he brings, but they will also need to be aware of his frailties.
We need to be mindful that the Brazilian born Italian was purchased as an experienced cover player, after the long-term injury sustained by Elneny. Jorginho was brought in, at a bargain price to offer rotation and respite for Partey and certainly not to replace him. Arteta would have hoped he could play on Thursdays perhaps in Europe and come one later in the Premier League, offering the experience and cool headedness, to close out matches. This was after all, how the manager used the Egyptian he is replacing.
I hope that Partey is back today, and we can resume business as usual but if not Jorginho will not let anyone down if the team assist in managing his defensive load. In an ideal world, at 31 we would all want Jorginho to be the 2023 version, 20 years on of the main who signed him, Edu. Our current Technical Director was a delightful footballer, who we all loved dearly. When Gilberto or Vieira were injured, we were never unhappy to see his name on the team sheet, confident he would do his job. Equally though, if both were fit, Edu would seldom start a really big match.
I am delighted to have Jorginho as our 2023 Edu, but I still want Partey fit to face Leicester!
This article was written on Monday for Sun Sport, but not published until Friday, so this is an adapted version.
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.
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