Thomas Partey announces himself as Martin Odegaard’s next challenger for key role at Arsenal


If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.

This mantra certainly applies to Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey after scoring in back-to-back games for Ghana in their World Cup qualification double-header against Zimbabwe.

Since arriving at the Emirates Stadium in a £45million deal from Atletico Madrid just over a year ago, the 28-year-old is yet to break his duck for the Gunners.

Although it’s certainly not for the lack of trying.

Partey rarely passes up a shooting opportunity, in particular from long range, and doesn’t seem to be affected by the fact that he often picks out row Z with his efforts when playing for Arsenal.

But for Ghana, it’s a little different.

In the home game against Zimbabwe, Partey netted a quite sublime goal as he won the ball deep in the opposition half, showed great composure and quick feet inside the penalty area to evade a couple of challenges before finding the back of the net with a crisp finish.

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And to prove his goalscoring mojo is in full swing, the midfielder repeated the trick four days later in the return game.

This time it was from a free-kick in a 1-0 win to keep Ghana on course to reach next year’s World Cup – although they still have work to do in order to reach the play-off round.

Questionable goalkeeping aside, Partey’s goal on Tuesday afternoon means he has finally completed his mission to be a worthy candidate when it comes to being Arsenal’s free-kick taker.

Despite not building up a reputation for being a free-kick specialist, Partey has shown he’s capable of doing so during a training session at London Colney last season and in a pre-season fixture against Hibernian a couple of months ago.

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In training, the midfielder scored with a stunning long-range effort, but against Hibs, his effort crashed against the bar.

With that said, it’s clear that Partey has been working on his free-kicks, so he would have been delighted to have finally seen one find the back of the net.

Now, as well as Partey, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has a number of players at his disposal who are all very capable of scoring direct from a free-kick.

Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette, Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are usually found over the ball when the Gunners are awarded a set-piece in a dangerous area.

Granit Xhaka scores direct from a free-kick in Arsenal's win over Chelsea (Image: Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)
Granit Xhaka scores direct from a free-kick in Arsenal’s win over Chelsea (Image: Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

And the quartet do have a decent record when it comes to taking advantage of these situations, having all found the back of the net with a free-kick at some point in the last three seasons.

Pepe netted two in one game against Vitoria in the 2019/20 campaign – the same season Aubameyang scored one against Aston Villa – and Lacazette’s stunning 30-yard effort against Napoli was one of two he netted in 2018/19.

Whereas Xhaka scored a brilliant free-kick against Chelsea on Boxing Day as Arsenal’s Premier League revival last season began with a 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium.

Meanwhile, this season has seen Martin Odegaard score a brilliant free-kick against Burnley as the Gunners sealed their first away win of the new Premier League campaign at the third attempt.

As a result, the Norway international might have surged to the top of the list when it comes to pulling rank over free-kicks at Arsenal following his goal at Turf Moor.

However, Partey may have something to say about that after proving himself as a genuine contender for Arsenal free-kicks.

Source by Football London

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