Mikel Arteta has found new Arsenal undroppable as Thomas Partey set for injury return

We’ve been here before, but it seems as though Thomas Partey is finally closing in on a return to action for Arsenal. The Ghanaian has played just 15 minutes since August due to a spate of muscle injuries, and his most recent thigh problem has seen him suffer plenty of setbacks on the road to recovery.

Now though, there is a hope that he could be back in contention for Monday night’s visit to Sheffield United. Arsenal are keen not to rush him, however.

He’s been out for many, many months now,” Mikel Arteta said in the build up to last week’s 4-1 win over Newcastle. “We need to really nail the timing of when he has enough in the tank to compete.”

In seasons gone by this would have been huge news for Arsenal. Partey could easily have been classified as Arsenal’s most important player for much of his time at the club. Between his arrival in 2020 and the end of the 2021/22 season, the Gunners’ win percentage without him starting was just 45% as opposed to 58% with him.

This season though, despite his near entire absence Arsenal find themselves well in the hunt for the Premier League title, and still in with a decent chance of making the Champions League quarter-finals. So what’s changed?

Well, the arrival of Declan Rice has been the main thing. The England international has been superb since his club record transfer from West Ham, with 26 of his 34 starts coming in Partey’s defensive midfield position. To put the praise entirely at his door would be wrong though.

That’s because Jorginho has been largely outstanding. The Italian has proved himself as a reliable and quality option at the base of the Arsenal midfield when Arteta has wanted to exert more control. This has particularly been the case in big games like the win against Liverpool earlier this month. With Partey now nearly back, the question has to be asked, is the Ghanaian now behind Jorginho in the pecking order

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