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A statistical look: Thomas Partey : Gunners

tldr: A statistical analysis of Thomas Partey to try to get an objective perspective on his performance last year. Quick summary of my findings in the comments.

Since the end of the season, I’ve been working on data analysis on players we’re interested in or good value names to provide some objective insights. All my past analysis has focused on “creative” players as that was what how my database was set up, but I’ve since created another version to analyze midfielders. As such, this post is going to focus on Thomas Partey, someone of great interest to this sub.

Past Analyses: Emi Buendia, Willian, Coutinho ,Luis Alberto, Ruslan Malinovskyi, Marcel Sabitzer, Christopher Nkunku, Raphinha, Mounir Chouiar

Quick disclaimer: stats are never the whole picture – they can be inaccurate, be made to be misleading, and are best used in conjunction with watching game tape. To the extent that I can, I will try to cover the stats in a holistic way.


Simply put, I compiled a database of all available statistics on players from the 5 big leagues (via fbref), then used the data to create a peer analysis. Once you determine your peer groups, you normalize each player’s stats so that it’s relative to the peer set. By doing that, I can see in what percentile a player is in relative to that data set by using the mean and standard deviation of that set.

The peer group: all players classified as Midfielders by fbref with over 810 minutes played – a total of 349 player fit this category. I used this set to determine the underlying distribution analysis. Some defensive mids we categorized as both “MF” and “DF” on fbref, so I retroactively compared those players to the distribution of the pure “MF” set to catch any players who may have fallen through the cracks, raising the total number of players to 428.


This specific ranking system is not supposed to be my main takeaway as it’s a somewhat arbitrary way of combining stats, however, I include it as it provides a succinct way of getting my message across.

Taking the average percentile across MANY stat categories, Partey ranked as:

Type out of 428 players
“Balanced” 48th
Deep Lying Playmaking 39th
Defensive 18th

As there are many different midfield roles, I tried to see how Partey performs relative to the different roles. This is tough to determine, as fbref doesn’t parse midfielders into sub-categorizes, meaning I can only determine stat percentiles of all midfielders, not percentile per type of midfielder. To work around this, I took each player’s individual stat percentiles and weighted them differently for each midfield role (you can find the weighting of each stat here). So ‘Defensive Mid’ category heavily weights defensive stats, ‘DLP Mid’ puts more on passing and defensive stats, and ‘Balanced Mid’ weighs stats more equally (actually leans a little more attacking). Again, this is relatively arbitrary, but at least gives us some sense of what role(s) a player can be deployed in.

From here on in my post, I break down in details some of the metrics that I used in my ranking above. It’s quite long, so here are the key takeaways on Partey:

– Not the dominating one-on-one defensive destroyer some would have you believe, however, he has very good overall defending ability, pairing solid on-ball take-ons with great off-ball positioning to secure interceptions and physicality to consistently win areal duels.

– An excellent on-ball presence, with strong dribbling ability to get past defenders and expose holes in the defense, while maintaining good discipline to not get dispossessed often.

– Good passing ability; not exceptionally incisive, but an important cog in progressing the ball to attacking areas in a positive manner that helps lead to more scoring chances.

Provides some goal scoring ability from the midfield; takes an average number of shots, but efficient with his opportunities, leading to consistent over-performance on his xG.

– OVERALL: Arsenal’s current group of midfielder all have one (or a few) hole(s) in their games that has forced us into formations that either leave us defensively exposed or offensively toothless. Partey brings very strong all around ability that can improve that caliber of the unit we trot out, complementing the players around and bringing tactical flexibility


In this section, I want to look more closely at specific aspects of Partey to breakdown strengths/weaknesses and see how the stats hold up to public perception.

Also, some asked me to include the data on Arsenal players from last season to help make the numbers I provide more relatable – I’ve provided data here.

Note #1: Read “94.0% (10)” as “in the 94th percentile for the stat, ranking him at 10th out of the 428 midfielders in the data set”.

Note #2: The lower the percentile, the worse it is. The smaller the rank, the better it is.

Note #3: Some percentiles have a bit of skew in the underlying data. If I refer to a stat with some skew, I include an * to flag it (typically ~5-10% variance in the percentile; rank unaffected).


Tackles Attempted p90 ; Success Rate 51% (189) ; 67% (130)
Dribbles Contested p90 ; Success Rate 50% (214) ; 88% (68)
Pressed Ballcarrier p90 ; Success Rate 11% (348) ; 79% (105)
Blocks p90* ; Interceptions p90* 75% (121) ; 86% (55)
Areal Duels Won p90 ; Success Rate 86% (63) ; 91% (34)

What this tells me about Partey:

  • His percentiles are a little different than the perception I had from my limited viewing of him.

  • Average in terms of take on attempts for the typical midfielder, but above average in terms of success rates.

  • Very low a pressing rate, likely due to the low block play style of Atletico. Believe he’s athletic enough to adapt to more press heavy scheme.

  • Two areas where he excels: off the ball and in the air. Really good at getting in passing lanes to intercepting balls (although I do wonder how much of this is due to the low block system). Imposing in the air, elite at winning areal duels and does so with high frequency.

  • Bottom Line: Doesn’t seem to be so much a dominating dispossessor, but well-rounded. Savvy in terms of positioning to intercept and physical to win the ball back in the air.


Touches p90* 76% (83)
% of Touches in Def Pen/ Def 3rd/ Mid 3rd/ Attacking 3rd/ Att Pen 66/57/91/16/16% (172/210/27/340/365)
Dribbles Attempted p90* ; Dribble Success %: 71% (130) ; 90% (36)
Dispossessions p90* ; Disposs. per Carry* 91% (53) ; 96% (31)

What this tells me about Partey:

  • Above average amount of time/touches on ball, but more notable is where most his touches take place. Relative to the average midfielder, he spends a lot of his time in the middle 3rd and slightly above average amount of time in the defensive areas, while his presence in attacking areas is well below average.

  • Surprisingly, an extremely effective dribbler – high amount of take-ons with excellent success rate. The public perception of Partey paints a defensive savant, however, it’s really undersold the other aspects of his game.

  • His dispossession percentiles indicate that he is quite secure with the ball. I would note that this stat can be a little misleading as it is relative to all midfielders, some who play in more advanced areas and face more defenders/pressing, while others take up deeper positions with less defense to deal with. Since Partey typically occupies a middle-to-defensive area, he is likely a bit overrated here, but still quite good overall.

  • Bottom Line: Strong influence as a ball-carrier, with great dribbling ability to get past defenders and good security to maintain possession.

Chance Creation / Passing:

Assists p90* ; xA p90* 10% (302-428) ; 24% (327)
Passes Attempted p90* ; Completion % 77% (80) ; 59% (187)
Key Passes p90 31% (295)
Completed Passes Into Final 3rd p90 89% (41)
Completed Passes Into Penalty Area p90 60% (193)
Completed Crosses Into Penalty Area p90 21% (312)
Completed Progressive Passes p90 84% (73)
Passes While Pressured 71% (91)

What this tells me about Partey:

  • While his assist numbers are low (he’s actually tied for last in the Assists p90 number since he had 0 assists last seasons, with just 1 for raw xA), this is largely attributable to his deeper positioning, where he’s not expected to be the one making the final pass leading to a goal.

  • This inference makes sense even in context of his “danger” passing metrics – below average in key passes (passes that directly lead to a shot), but very high for passes into the final 3rd and progressive passes.

  • His danger passing percentiles actually look quite similar to Xhaka – not a bad thing considering Xhaka has been quite important to our buildup – however, with Partey you also get strong defending and more potency as a dribbler, as detailed above.

  • He has an above average number of overall pass attempts p90 for midfielders, likely indicating that he’s an important distributor for his team. His completion percentage percentile of 59% is not bad and actually indicates that he would be a bit above average.

  • Passes while pressured doesn’t paint a complete picture since it’s a raw attempts number without completion % data; what I can draw is that his 71st percentile in it indicates that he’s comfortable with, or at least used to, making passes while under pressure. With Arteta’s insistence on making a man commit to you before making a pass, that indicates that he should theoretically fit well into our system’s needs.

Shot Chance Creation p90 41% (247)
Goal Chance Creation p90* 78% (84)

The first stat documents the number of shots the player directly helps create through buildup play (by making a pass, dribbling past an opponent, drawing a foul, or trying to take a shot which ricocheted off someone and led to someone else getting a chance to shoot), where as the latter stat does the same but only tracks actions which actually resulted in goals (not “goal worthy” chances).

What this tells me about Partey:

  • For a player who predominantly spends his time and touches in the defensive and middle areas of the pitch, he is still quite involved in creating chances.

  • While his shot chance creation hovers around average, considering that this is relative to all mids, I still think it’s a pretty good metric for a player who doesn’t really get deep in the attacking areas.

  • Interestingly, his chance creation comes disproportionately highly from dribbling, which could complement Xhaka and Cebellos quite well, as neither have generated many chances for us via dribbling.

  • The disparity between his SCC and GCC is quite large and seems somewhat surprising – I don’t have too much to explain this statistically, maybe he just provides better quality options that lead to higher rate of conversation (a guess).

  • If you compare it to his assist output, it would indicate that he’s typically not the one making the final pass/dribble, but more so someone who is valuable in buildup and getting the ball to better areas (via passing or dribbling past an opponent).

  • Bottom Line: Predominantly a deeper lying passer, Partey plays an integral role in chance creation through efficient play in the buildup of attacks.


Goals p90* ; xG p90* 77% (118) ; 43% (255)
Non-Penalty Goals p90* ; Non-Penalty xG* 80% (101) ; 46% (242)
Shots p90* / Shots on Target p90* 60% (168) ; 59% (188)
Goals per Shot on Target 79% (83)

What this tells me about Partey:

  • Slightly above average volume shooter, with shots p90 and shots on target p90 about in line with each other. Independently, these stats don’t tell us a ton about his shooting efficiency. For example, an average volume shooter will likely have higher shots on target volume if his shots are from closer to the goal, whereas a long distance average volume shooter likely will have a lower shots on target volume. Considering that Partey is around the bottom quintile for touches in attacking areas, I would guess more of his shots are long distance, however, I can’t say with certainty with the data I have. If he is more of a long distance shooter, than a shots on target p90 percentile that mirrors his shots p90 percentile would likely indicate more accurate shooting.

  • Above average goal scorer, particularly for a midfielder who plays deeper. Not an immense goal scorer, as he only scored 3 times in the league last season, however, it shows that he can be a threat (and consistent – having scored 3 each of the last 3 years).

  • Efficient with his opportunities, having over-performed on his xG each of the last the 3 seasons (coincidentally he scored 3 goals each of the last 3 years on a xG of 1.5 each year)

  • Bottom Line: A good goal scorer for a midfielder, quite efficient with his opportunities and consistent output over the past few years.


Team Net Goals (+/-) While On Pitch p90* 84% (65)
Team Net Goals (+/-) While On Pitch vs Off p90 69% (117)
Team Net xG (+/-} While On Pitch p90* 82% (71)
Team Net xG (+/-) While On Pitch vs Off p90 25% (319)

What this tells me about Partey:

  • I generally hesitate to draw major conclusions from this section, even more so since this is a mixed bag for Partey.

  • Team net goals and net xG both indicate that Atletico are a very good team while he is on the pitch. But these stats don’t independently tell us a lot as a high percentile here could be due to having great teammates/coaching around him.

  • Team net goals on-off and net xG on-off help paint a better picture of what his impact on the team is, however for Partey, they send conflicting messages. Above average team net goals on-off would indicate that Atletico scored more goals / conceded fewer goals with him on the pitch vs off (relative to other mids). However, below average team net xG of-off would indicate that Atletico generate fewer goal scoring opportunities / concede more goal scoring chances with Partey on the pitch vs off. Since these two metrics oppose each other here, I can’t make any conclusions.

Since I started with my conclusion near the beginning of my post, I’ll end by thanking you for reading all the way to the end!

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