Former Arsenal centre-back Martin Keown has raised his concerns about midfield enforcer Thomas Partey’s struggles to boss the midfield following the 1-1 draw with Slavia Prague in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening.
The Gunners were on course to take a one-goal advantage into next week’s quarter-final second-leg with the Czech outfit after Nicolas Pepe broke the deadlock with just four minutes of the contest remaining.
However, Arsenal, who return to Premier League action on Sunday evening when they travel to Bramall Lane to face bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United, were left stunned by a last-gasp Tomas Holes equaliser.
The Slavia defender headed home from a corner deep into stoppage time to secure a vital away goal for the visitors, ensuring they have something to hold onto going into next Thursday’s second-leg.
For Arsenal, the contest had a similar feel to those of recent weeks; creating a whole host of chances but failing to provide the finish they required.
However, former Gunners man Keown, who refrained from criticising the club’s attacking players too much, was not overly impressed by Partey’s performance, insisting that he was “disappointed” by what he saw from the Ghanaian international.
“Partey, as well, tonight, was another player that really disappointed me,” Keown told BT Sport. “Watching it live here, and we’re not getting into the stadiums that often, he didn’t look like he had the legs to get around the pitch.
“He wasn’t really bossing that midfield, and credit to them, by the way, Slavia Prague because they’ve got lots of good players and made good substitutions.
“But that’s an area of the pitch that I would’ve thought by now, he would be bossing.”
In truth, Keown’s argument had sufficient evidence attached. The former Atletico Madrid man, who swapped the Spanish capital for the Emirates Stadium last October, was wasteful in possession at times and lacked the passing range he is so often usually capable of.
The summer transfer window is just around the corner.
And the rumour mill is already starting to pick up speed.
Arsenal will not have a huge amount of money to spend, but Mikel Arteta will be hoping to make a number of moves, with loanee Martin Odegaard high up the list of priorities to bring in on a permanent deal.
But who would you sign? Get involved in our transfer window debate here.
Whilst Keown did point out Partey’s struggles, it is important to remember that the midfielder is still adjusting to his new surroundings in what has been a difficult few months.
He has experienced a stop-start campaign because of injury woes, restricting him to just 22 appearances in all competitions.
On the flip side, however, Partey does currently find himself on a run of three successive starts, meaning he will soon, hopefully, be at full tilt to start delivering the goods on a regular basis.