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The 5 big tactical consequences of Thomas Partey arrival

MADRID, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 01: Thomas Partey of Atletico de Madrid in action during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on February 01, 2020, in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Arsenal are making a strong move for Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey. Here are five tactical consequences of his arrival at the Emirates.

This week, Thomas Partey’s father, Jacob Partey, confirmed that his son is in discussions with Arsenal regarding a transfer from Atletico Madrid. “I called my son after hearing the rumours and he told me that the rumours are true,” he told Tru FM’s Sports World Show. “He told me they are holding talks between him and Arsenal. It all depends on the offer Atletico are demanding. If he goes to Arsenal fine, they have a lot of supporters in Ghana. I will be happy if he decides to move to Arsenal. What they are discussing now is how Atletico will release him.”

But what tactical consequences would his arrival have? Here are five potential ramifications from Partey slotting into central midfield.

Arsenal, Hector Bellerin

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 27: Hector Bellerin of Arsenal gathers the ball during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Arsenal FC and Olympiacos FC at Emirates Stadium on February 27, 2020, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images)

5. How do the full-backs’ roles change?

Mikel Arteta has largely used a slanted 4-2-3-1 shape at Arsenal. The most noticeable tactical alterations to the base formation are the positions of the right-back, left-back and left-sided central midfielder: the left-back pushes high to join a front five, the left central midfielder slides over into a pseudo-left-back space, while the right-back tucks inside. This forms a 2-3-5 shape.

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However, Partey’s inclusion would provide Arteta with a more capable central midfield that can control matches without such heavy manoeuvring. Granit Xhaka, who plays as the left-sided holding midfielder, needs protection due to his weaknesses when pressed and his lack of athleticism and quickness in short spaces. Moving him deep and wide, then, is ideal. But Partey offers Arteta the chance to use two more capable central midfielders in possession, thus providing a greater balance to the overall set-up.

In turn, that could change the roles of the full-backs. There is less need for the right-back to tuck inside with a more stable central midfield, while the left-back might have to take a more orthodox approach to the position, starting a little deeper. If Kieran Tierney, a more natural left-back, was to replace Bukayo Saka at left-back, this would release Hector Bellerin into a more offensive approach at right-back, something that he is better suited to than the inverted role at present. It could provide more offensive width and balance to an attack that has struggled to create thus far.

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