He’s come a long way – Mikel Arteta hails improving Thomas Partey after victory

Posted Monday, March 14, 2022 by PA

He’s come a long way – Mikel Arteta hails improving Thomas Partey after victory

Mikel Arteta said Thomas Partey has “come a long way” since he signed for the club after the Ghana international produced a starring performance in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Leicester.

Partey and Alexandre Lacazette were on target as the Gunners reclaimed fourth spot in the Premier League from Manchester United, who beat Tottenham on Saturday.

Partey put  Arsenal ahead with an 11th-minute header while he also hit the woodwork with a shot and played a key role in the incident which led to the second-half penalty from which Lacazette scored to seal all three points.

He’s come a long way – Mikel Arteta hails improving Thomas Partey after victory
Thomas Partey opened the scoring for Arsenal (Nick Potts/PA)

The 28-year-old may not have hit the headlines as much as some of his team-mates since joining from Atletico Madrid in 2020, but Arteta believes the midfielder – named Arsenal’s player of the month for the first time in February – is getting better all the time.

“He almost scored shooting, he had a great shot onto the crossbar, he was involved in both goals – the header he scored and the penalty as well – and the reaction when he had the shot,” Arteta said.

“You could see he was voted player of the month last month and he’s come a long way, he has the consistency and the minutes, he understands what we want much better.

“I think his cohesion and understanding with the rest of the players is getting better and better and now it is about consistency and to keep doing it.”

Arsenal have not finished in the top four since Arsene Wenger was in charge and last season did not qualify for Europe for the first time since the 1994-95 campaign, but they have a one-point advantage and three games in hand on fifth-placed Manchester United.

West Ham in sixth and seventh-placed Wolves have also played three games more than the Gunners, and are three and five points worse off respectively.

It is a promising position to be in heading into the home straight, but Arteta is not looking too far ahead.

“I look at the table with the games that we have remaining. We know where we are and we know what we have to look forward to. We have to look at what we do and look at our performances and prepare for the next match and that’s it,” Arteta said when asked about the importance of remaining fourth.

“Because the rest – we are going to be guessing. I’m not a great gambler, I never have been and I don’t want to gamble.”

For Arsenal’s second goal, Luke Thomas had seemingly saved the visitors from going 2-0 down when he hooked the ball off the line, but there was a VAR review for a handball by Caglar Soyuncu in the area which appeared to impede Partey’s close-range header before Thomas made his clearance.

After a lengthy check, the penalty was awarded and Lacazette fired the ball into the top corner to double his side’s lead, but Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers believes it was a harsh decision.

“I think the time it took to be awarded will probably tell you that it was harsh on to be honest,” the Foxes manager said.

He’s come a long way – Mikel Arteta hails improving Thomas Partey after victory
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers (right) felt the penalty decision against his side was “harsh” (Nick Potts/PA)

“I think Caglar’s movement, it was a functional movement, it obviously touches his hand but it certainly wasn’t intentional and that was a huge disappointment for us in the game that we were well in.”

“We’ve seen it all season some of the decisions, and it’s part of the luck that has gone against us. It’s happened to us a number of times over the course of the season, but hugely frustrating.”

He added: “I think we’ve seen a lot of decisions – I’m not one to go on about the referees, I know it’s a really difficult job and I try to respect what they have to do, but there is a lot of inconsistency in it and some of the decisions of course end up costing you.”




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