Mikel Arteta urged to address Arsenal issue as pundit names ‘brilliant’ player vital to title hopes

Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Sala and Thomas Partey

Clinton Morrison believes Mikel Arteta needs to find a player capable of deputising for Thomas Partey should the Arsenal midfielder pick up another injury.

The Gunners have been a revelation this season. They went into the World Cup break sitting top of the table and with a five-point advantage over Manchester City. That gap remains the same. But City’s 2-1 loss to Manchester United on Saturday means they could lead by eight points on Sunday evening.

The Emirates outfit face the short trip to play Tottenham in what looks set to be a pulsating North London Derby on Sunday.

Partey has been superb, anchoring the midfield and allowing Arteta’s attacking stars to shine.

The Ghana interantional has started 14 of Arsenal’s 17 top-flight matches in 2022-2023. He is now an automatic choice when fit.

Fitness has been an issue for the African ace, however, with injuries limiting him to only 24 league appearances last term.

He has missed three of the league leaders’ games this season.

Morrison feels Partey is now right at the top of his game. And the former Crystal Palace forward has urged Arteta to add some insurance to his ranks with a new midfielder this month.

“I still think they need a central midfielder because if anything happens to Thomas Partey it will be a huge blow for them,” he said on Sky Sports. “He has been outstanding.

“We talk about all the good attacking players but he sits there and it showing outstanding form that he was showing when he was at Atletico Madrid.

“I think he’s been brilliant.”

Partey crucial to Arsenal cause

Arsenal showed signs of things to come when finishing fifth last season. A slight dip in the final couple of weeks saw them miss out on Champions League qualification.

But, far from wallowing in self pity, they have picked themselves up to dominate the Premier League.

All aspects of the team are in good working order, with 40 goals scored to date.

And only Newcastle have conceded fewer than the 14 the Gunners have picked out of their own net. It all adds up to a healthy situation in the red half of north London.

It remains to be seen if they can maintain their title push and this weekend’s clash with Spurs will be a pointer.

Keeping Partey fit will be key to their hopes. It has been widely reported that Arteta will be handed funds to strengthen in the January window.

And reports on Saturday suggested that Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk could soon be at the club.

The Ukraine international is set to sign for a club-record fee. The Times reported on Friday that Arsenal will have to pay £50m up front.

However, that will rise to £80m with bonuses as Shakhtar refuse to budge over their valuation.

The youngster is one of the most exciting players in Europe and will provide another attacking option for the team.

But it may be that bringing in another midfield anchor is just as important.

Partey’s injury history suggests he will not play every game between now and May.

And Arteta needs that stability in midfield to ensure his flair players keep doing the business.

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