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Thomas Partey takes center stage
One of the more interesting things of late and something that has been talked about is a shift to a more 4-3-3 type shape for Arsenal. What we have seen in this is the move from Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey in a double pivot, to Partey playing as a single pivot (most of the time) with Xhaka pushed into the more left 8 space.
This was the basis for my search for a new "Attacking 8" type midfielder when I was putting together a shopping list for the summer but today I want to look more at how Partey is looking in this new role.
On a side note, James McNicholas (@gunnerblog) has written a good piece looking at this from the Xhaka perspective on the Athletic.
The change for the formation and for the performances goes back to the dreadful loss against Everton.
When Xhaka and Partey played together before the change in roles, Xhaka (as long as he didn't get sent off) played a larger part of getting Arsenal up the field, playing more passes and acting as the hub.
From the Southampton match forward, Partey has taken on that role with more passes in 6 of those 9 matches. He has also become much more central in his positioning shuttling between the left and right to pick up the ball off of the center backs and full-backs.
The comparison in the stats before and after this change of roles shows (to me at least) this is bringing out the best in Partey's ability to evade pressure and play his signature progressive passes up to the attackers.
This change has seen more out of Partey but also more out of Arsenal as a team. I am not saying that this is the reason but it is one of a number of things that has changed and I am fairly certain it has contributed to the uptick in form.