In a mixed team performance against Rapid Vienna, Thomas Partey put on an excellent individual display on his full debut for Arsenal.
After bringing Thomas Partey on as a substitute against Manchester City, Mikel Arteta decided the midfielder was ready for his full debut in the Europa League on Thursday. The 27-year-old certainly repaid that faith on the pitch.
Partey led Arsenal on duels won, aerial duels won, tackles made, possession gained, passes into the final third, and passes in the final third. He consistently made positive interventions to win the ball back, but he also used it excellently.
Throughout the match, his body feints and direct forward passes helped his teammates find space, and if anything, they let him down by not making better use of it.
The former Atletico man defended intelligently, picking his moments to stick a foot in or anticipating a pass before it came. This often helped to keep Arsenal on the attack and maintain pressure on Rapid Vienna.
Partey smashed the fan vote with 66.2% of Arsenal’s Twitter poll, almost 48 percentage points ahead of Gabriel Magalhaes in second place. That’s no slight on Gabriel either, as he was excellent too.
But this was Partey’s night. Owen Hargreaves said on BT Sport: “This guy makes it look so easy. He plays number 10 passes as a holding midfielder. It’s one of the best debuts I’ve ever seen.”
Let’s keep this in perspective. Rapid didn’t look like a bad side on the night, but they’re still just the second-placed finisher in Austria from last season. It may have been Arsenal’s toughest group fixture on paper, but they’ll face stronger opponents this season.
It’s a positive first step for Partey, but he needs to keep following it up with more in the coming weeks.