Mikel Arteta is one step closer to Arsenal’s dream scenario amid another Thomas Partey setback


Getting Thomas Partey back from the Africa Cup of Nations earlier than planned would have been the dream scenario for Mikel Arteta before the tournament got underway.

And he’s now one more round of fixtures away from solving Arsenal ‘s midfield crisis.

At the beginning of the year, the Gunners had Partey, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all available for selection against Manchester City.

But in the space of a week, five midfield options swiftly become one which meant wonderkid Charlie Patino was handed his senior debut against Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup.

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The reason for those absences are mixed. Xhaka tested positive for Covid-19 so missed the trip to the City Ground as he was self-isolating, whilst Maitland-Niles had sealed a loan move to AS Roma 24 hours prior.

The decision to allow that latter to leave has ultimately come back to haunt Arteta as he’s down to just one recognised senior central midfielder ahead of the north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur.

Although, it should be noted that Arsenal are awaiting a decision from the Premier League regarding their request to postpone Sunday’s fixture due to Covid, injuries and players away on international duty.

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Meanwhile, the Spaniard hasn’t been able to call upon Partey or Elneny since the defeat against Man City as they are away at the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana and Egypt respectively.

However, the former could soon be back at London Colney.

Having got off to the worst possible start by losing 1-0 to Morocco in their opening group game, Ghana are now on the brink of a surprise early elimination after being held to a 1-1 draw by Gabon in their second fixture on Friday evening.

Thomas Partey's Ghana have one point from two games at the Africa Cup of Nations. (Image: Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Thomas Partey’s Ghana have one point from two games at the Africa Cup of Nations. (Image: Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Despite taking the lead through Andre Ayew in the first-half, Ghana didn’t push for a second and Jim Allevinah took advantage to controversially equalise for Gabon in the 88th minute with his side not returning the ball after it had been put out for an injury. The result leaves Partey’s team on one point from two games.

With that said, it’s not all bad news for the Black Stars as just like with the European Championships, the best four third-placed teams will advance to the round of 16 alongside the top two teams from each group.

This means Partey can still help his nation progress when they face Comoros on Tuesday evening.

However, only a victory will do as it’s highly unlikely that two points would be enough to seal a place in the knockout phase.

So with January 18 potentially being the date where Ghana are eliminated from the AFCON, Partey, barring any injury or quarantine needs, could be in contention to make an Arsenal appearance before the month is out.

It’s unlikely that Arteta would be able to call upon the 28-year-old for the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Liverpool on January 20, but the home game against Burnley three days later could be a possibility.

Source by Football London

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