Thomas Partey - Inverted Right Back?
Mikel Arteta has adjusted his system to squeeze in new signings Rice and Havertz without losing Partey, lets take a look at how that is going.
One of the new wrinkles of the first two matches of the season has been Thomas Partey starting as the right back for Arsenal.
We saw this at the end of last season with Jakub Kiwior playing leftback and Jorginho at center midfield but that could have been dismissed as just dealing with an injury crisis to the preferred starting eleven. This is very different and started speculation that perhaps this was in response to a pending departure in the team.
I think this will be a situation that it turns out where Mikel Arteta is just experimenting, evolving, and looking for new solutions while giving the teams we are facing a new look that there isn’t a ton of film for them to have planned for.
This has been the way that the lineup has been diagrammed for Arsenal for both matches this season. There has been times that the team looks like that but it is often just as a start as the team changes shape towards something new in possession.
Against Nottingham Forest, we have seen Partey move inside towards his more traditional single pivot role with Kai Havertz pushing forward into a free role and Declan Rice filling his spot to make a diamond/box midfield.
The pass map tells an interesting story here. Partey is the main hub for Arsenal along with William Saliba.
He looks to be a bit split between the right and the center on the pass map but overall he still is receiving the ball in very similar locations to what he did last year as the DM.
Out of possession, he is still playing like a right back with most of his defensive actions and space covered coming down the right flank and in the box. It seems to be a bit more on the extreme side of what we saw on Arsenal’s left-hand side last season.
Against Crystal Palace, things were similar but with Partey coming into the single pivot less often. This match it was much more him coming into support Rice and forming a double pivot but with significantly more responsibility to hold width wide.
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