Ray Parlour hails Thomas Partey’s full debut and likens midfielder to Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira

Thomas Partey runs with the ball during Arsenal's Europa League clash with Rapid Vienna
Thomas Partey impressed on his full Arsenal debut against Rapid Vienna (Picture: Getty)

Ray Parlour believes Arsenal have been crying out for a player like Thomas Partey for a number of years and has compared the midfielder to club legend Patrick Vieira after his full debut against Rapid Vienna.

Partey shone in the middle of the park as Mikel Arteta’s men came from behind to seal a 2-1 victory in Austria and get their Europa League campaign off the to the perfect start.

David Luiz cancelled out Taxiarchis Fountas’ opener with a towering header midway through the second half at the Allianz Stadium before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang swept home Hector Bellerin’s cross to secure all three points for the visitors.

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates his goal against Rapid Vienna with Hector Bellerin
Aubameyang’s strike secured an important away win for the Gunners (Picture: Getty)

Discussing Partey’s impressive performance on talkSPORT, ex-Arsenal midfielder Parlour said: ‘He’s got a real good presence and I don’t think they’ve had that in midfield.

‘I don’t think they’ve been mobile enough over the last few years, if I’m being honest, but he’s that man to really fill in all the stops.

‘He’s 6’1’’, he’s got that presence and he’s got the mobility in the midfield area. He had a really good game.

‘When they started flooding people forward when they were trying to get back into the game, he was the one that was just sat in midfield and made everything tick.

‘Very efficient and it’s a very good start to his Arsenal career.

‘He could be a really big signing for Arsenal going forward because I think they’ve missed someone like him in that central midfield area for many years.’

Patrick Vieira celebrates scoring for Arsenal
Parlour compared Partey to legendary former Arsenal captain Vieira (Picture: Getty)

Parlour likened Partey’s game to that of former Arsenal captain Vieira but urged supporters to be patient with their £45million signing.

‘You can see he’s got all the attributes to be like a Patrick Vieira,’ he added.

‘If he gets anywhere near Patrick Vieira, we’ve had a right result as Arsenal fans.

‘They knew exactly what they were buying there, very strong player which we’ve lacked in that midfield area.

‘But let’s not get carried away, let’s give him a chance and wait until we’re playing the big sides like Manchester City and Liverpool and see how he can boss the midfield then.

‘If he can do it then, then we can say: “Right, we’ve got a proper player here!”’

Mikel Arteta looks on during Arsenal's Europa League clash with Rapid Vienna
Arteta praised Partey following Arsenal’s win (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta was equally impressed with Partey’s display and said the Ghanaian ‘held the midfield by himself’ when the match opened up after the break.

‘He looked really solid and really comfortable,’ the Arsenal head coach said.

‘I think he held the midfield by himself in the second half as well when we were a little bit more open and we started to take more chances attacking certain spaces with some players.

‘But I think he was fantastic tonight and there is much more to come from him.’

Asked whether Arsenal need to manage expectations around Partey, Arteta responded: ‘Yes, of course.

‘But he needs his teammates around him, it’s not [just] about him.

‘Obviously, we know with the price we paid for him and the profile of player that he is we know he’s going to have a lot of people looking at him every single game.

‘But it’s about the structure we have as a team. The flow, the unity and cohesion we need in our team and he’s one piece of that, and hopefully he’s a big piece.’

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