Arsenal’s involvement in the issue
It is no coincidence that the injuries started racking up upon the midfielder’s move to England. It could even be argued that Arsenal have brought this issue upon themselves in some regards due to their handling of the situation.
At Atlético Madrid, Partey was used as one of the two central midfielders in Diego Simeone’s renowned 4-4-2. The ideology behind the 4-4-2 is that in defence, the second bank of four is zonally positioned, and moves as a unit depending on the position of the ball. This means that Partey’s off-the-ball work didn’t require much athleticism, and instead utilised Partey’s footballing intelligence.
In Madrid, the Ghanaian also played alongside the likes of Champions League winner, Rodri, and La Liga winner, Saúl Ñíguez. The midfield duties were usually shared between Partey and these elite midfielders, so the work wasn’t as physically demanding. However, during his time at Arsenal, he has often played as a lone pivot and is forced to cover far more ground than his previous role required. Although he gained the nickname ‘octopus’ for his ability to do this well, his body may not physically be capable of carrying the name.
Partey has also naturally aged since joining the Gunners, and his physical peak may have been before his €50m move. At his oldest during his time at the ‘Colchoneros’, Partey would have been 27, just below the average peak for a midfielder of his ability. He has recently turned 30, which may simply just be past his peak, and it may just have to be a fact that Arsenal fans need to deal with.
Despite unfair stereotypes that other European leagues are at a much worse level than the Premier League, it is fair to say that the physical demand in England is greater. Contrary to Pep Guardiola’s stance on the matter, intense studies often show that the Premier League is the most intense of Europe’s top five leagues by quite a distance. It is possible that Partey’s body just can’t cope with the intensity change, and his physical capabilities were those of La Liga.
Continued on the next slide…