Arsenal appear to be seriously interested in Atletico Madrid’s engine room machine Thomas Partey. The Ghanaian can cost the Gunners a whopping £44m but it looks like Arsenal are willing to pay the steep price.

So we went ahead and imagined Sanllehi pulled the deal off and Mikel Arteta got another midfielder to play around with. But first, a few ground rules about the squad below.

  • We operate on the assumption Arsenal retain all current players. That includes Pablo Mari and Dani Ceballos.
  • We don’t chop and crop defenders and forwards at all. Partey’s introduction concerns the midfield, so we alter that accordingly.
  • We move Auba to centre-forward. He has to play there at some point, even if only in our imagination!
  • We assume William Saliba will hit the ground running and partner Pablo Mari in central defence.
  • Auba’s move to CF frees us space for either Gabi Martinelli or Bukayo Saka on the left. We went for the former – and included the latter at left-back.
  • It’s not Saka’s natural position but we think a Saka-Martinelli axis is more exciting than a Tierney + 1 combo.

And now, the two ways we see Partey integrated into the first XI.

Option 1: the classic 4-2-3-1

  • This can be employed for home matches against ‘lesser’ teams and would feature a more open midfield.
  • Xhaka keeps his place as a midfield metronome, Ozil plays the usual ’10’ role.
  • Unfortunately, Torreira would have to make way, because Partey is a holding midfielder himself.

Starting XI: Leno, Bellerin, Saliba, Mari, Saka, Partey, Xhaka, Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli, Aubameyang.

Option 2: a 4-3-3 with better defensive cover

  • This would be used away to ‘big’ teams to provide our back four with more protection.
  • Ozil and Xhaka are not defensively sound enough to operate in this system – both have to go.
  • Torreira and Ceballos come in – the former doubles down on retrieving the ball together with Partey, the latter play in more advanced box-to-box-role.

Starting XI: Leno, Bellerin, Saliba, Mari, Saka, Partey, Torreira , Pepe, Ceballos, Martinelli, Aubameyang.


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