Mikel Arteta explains Thomas Partey substitution against Olympiacos

Thomas Partey again failed to complete 90 minutes for Arsenal and was taken off against Olympiacos
Thomas Partey again failed to complete 90 minutes for Arsenal and was taken off against Olympiacos (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta allayed fears Thomas Partey had suffered another injury setback after the Arsenal midfielder again failed to complete 90 minutes, this time against Olympiacos in the Europa League.

The big-money signing from Atletico Madrid has shown only fleeting glimpses of the ability that persuaded the Gunners to part with £45million to secure his services on a frantic deadline day back in September.

Partey has struggled to maintain his fitness over the course of a largely frustrating first six months in north London and earlier this week he admitted he had only been 100% fit on two occasions this season.

The 27-year-old has completed the full 90 minutes just once since the end of January and was taken off during the early stages of the second half during last night’s victory in Pireas.

With the north London derby on the agenda next for Arsenal this Sunday, Arteta was not prepared to take any risks with his star midfielder but he insisted the decision to take him off against the Greek side was purely tactical.

Thomas Partey's replacement, Dani Ceballos, was at fault for Olympiacos' equaliser
Thomas Partey’s replacement, Dani Ceballos, was at fault for Olympiacos’ equaliser (Picture: Getty)

‘Because I wanted to change him and bring somebody else in to try to find some other stuff and try to change the shape with the way we were playing inside,’ Arteta said when asked about the decision to introduce Dani Ceballos at Partey’s expense.

Overall, Arteta made five substitutions last night, using the full extent of his squad. Eyebrows were raised when he brought on Mohamed Elneny while the scores were level, but the Egypt international rewarded his manager’s faith with a goal which should put the tie to bed ahead of the second leg.

‘With Mo in particular and with the subs, I’m extremely delighted because I know how much they want to play and they are key in this competition,’ added Arteta.

‘If you want to be successful, you need your subs to make an impact and they’ve done it tonight again. And Mo in particular, because of how he’s been training so hard to improve his shooting range with Roundy [Steve Round] and he got his reward tonight. It’s very important for the team.’

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