Neville suggests he's changed his mind about Arsenal's Thomas Partey
Gary Neville has told Monday Night Football on Sky Sports (broadcast on 23/1; 23:13) that he has now changed his mind on which player would hurt Arsenal most if taken out of Mikel Arteta’s side, with Thomas Partey now getting the nod for the pundit.
The Gunners continue to absolutely fly at the top of the Premier League. They have lost one game all season. And they have won 50 points in their opening 19 games of the campaign. And they put themselves five points clear at the top of the table – with a game in hand – with a 3-2 win over Manchester United on Sunday.
It is remarkable just how impressive Arsenal have been, with brilliant performances all over the pitch. And it is particularly impressive given what many fans felt when Gabriel Jesus sustained a serious injury at the World Cup.
Neville lauds Thomas Partey
Jesus appeared to be the final piece of the jigsaw for Arteta’s side. But Eddie Nketiah has stepped up in a big way this season. And with that, Neville no longer believes that Jesus is the pivotal man within the side.
In fact, Neville suggested that it has been the performances of Partey which have caught his eye in recent times.
“We asked that question earlier on in terms of which player if you took them out the Arsenal team would do the most damage if they lost them and you probably would have said Jesus a few weeks ago but Nketiah has been unbelievable,” he told Monday Night Football.
“If I looked at them now, I think I would say Partey, having watched them in the three games since Christmas.
“Honestly, in these three games I’ve seen live since Christmas I just think he’s holding a lot together in terms of the glue between the back four and Odegaard and the strikers.”
Midfielder on course for best season yet
Partey, unsurprisingly, is on course to play more football this season than he has in either of his previous two campaigns at the Emirates.
The 29-year-old has started 16 games this term. Last year, he managed 23 starts. And it was 18 the year before. Injuries have certainly been an issue since his £45 million move.
He gives the team such a balance, providing the likes of Martin Odegaard, Granit Xhaka and even Oleksandr Zinchenko with license to get forward.
They have midfielders who can come in. But, as Neville suggests, none quite tick the same boxes as Partey. So losing him would be a major blow.
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