Mikel Arteta defends Thomas Partey selection gamble against Tottenham

Thomas Partey lasted just 45 minutes on his comeback from injury last weekend
Thomas Partey lasted just 45 minutes on his comeback from injury last weekend (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta has dismissed suggestions he took an undue risk with Thomas Partey’s thigh injury against Tottenham last weekend.

The Ghana international had missed four matches in all competition with the thigh strain he sustained during the defeat to Aston Villa in early November.

In his absence, Arsenal failed to win a Premier League game and had sunk to 14th place ahead of the north London derby.

Despite partaking in only one full training session with his team-mates ahead of the match, Partey was selected from the start against Spurs but suffered a recurrence of the same injury on the stroke of half-time.

The 27-year-old will now miss ‘the next few matches’ according to Arteta but the under-fire Arsenal boss insists he and the club’s medical team took the correct precautions with Partey and were not guilty of rushing back the player.

‘He got injured in the same area, not exactly the same spot but the same area as before,’ said Arteta. ‘He will miss the next few matches.

‘He did incredibly well and he was very confident. We tested him three times and he had zero symptoms, but in football you have a lot of unpredictable actions.

‘He went into the floor, his knee got stuck, afterwards he stretched and got up. Immediately he put a lot of stress in a similar area and it happened.

‘Afterwards people will say it was a bit early but I don’t think it was because he was completely fine to play.’

Arsenal have already qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League ahead of tonight’s game against Dundalk having won all five of their group matches so far.

Their form in Europe, however, contrasts markedly to their domestic results but Arteta insists he was happy with the performance against Tottenham and is confident a change in fortune is just around the corner.

Asked to explain Arsenal’s Premier League struggles, Arteta said: Mainly the results. It’s strange to say but we played much better against Spurs than what we did against Manchester United.

‘Against Manchester United, we scored a penalty and won 1-0. We had an incredible performance but then we lost the derby 2-0 so obviously we cannot talk about that because we have lost the game.

‘We cannot be so analytical just with one thing in the work that we do because there are many other factors that contribute. But obviously we are here to win football matches and that’s the only thing that people see at the end.’

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