📸: arsenal.com

The fanfare that came with the arrival of Thomas Partey when he signed for Arsenal from Atletico Madrid in October 2020 was one that lifted the spirits of many Arsenal fans knowing the quality that the Ghanaian would bring to the team.

He was deemed a good fit for the club by both Technical Director, Edu and manager Mikel Arteta who had been monitoring him for a while, as the club allowed Lucas Torreira leave on loan in the other direction.

Many Arsenal fans couldn't wait to see him take to the pitch and not long after he signed, he made his debut in Arsenal's 1-0 loss tto Manchester City, making a substitute appearance as he replaced Granit Xhaka in that game. Luckily then, Arsenal were still playing in Europe (Europa League) and he made his full debut in the following game that Arsenal won 2-1 against Rapid Wien.

We struggled to see the Partey that we knew at Atleti. A midfield enforcer and transitioner. His first season was marred with injuries that he missed almost like two to three months in his first five months with Arsenal. One of the most painful injuries for me was the one he suffered in our 2-0 loss to Tottenham last season. Oh my! He was tracking a runner and all of a sudden pulled up, which led to a Spurs goal.

Those injuries limited him to just 38 games in that season and only 18 starts. Even in the games he played, he looked a shadow of the Partey we thought we got. Social media would not let Arsenal fans rest with how poorly Partey was performing and how he was an upgraded version of Francis Coquelin and all sorts.

The manager kept faith with him and so did some Arsenal fans, even though some already threw him under the bus and called him a fraud. Well it's not unusual to have fans divided over a player, especially when he was living up to the expected billing. In Facts, there were calls from different quarters to drop him for summer arrival, Albert Sambi Lokonga. I almost didn't remember we still had Lokonga in that team.

He also missed the start of this season, but since returning to fitness, he has been amazing in the middle of the park for Arsenal. Asides from his duty of covering the defence, he dribbling is top notch, wriggling past players easily many times and creating space for his teammates. His ability to calm games and spread the ball to widen the pitch is amazing, already making himself a regular in the Arsenal fold.

I wrote a post barely a month ago when Arsenal were on a form of good run where I noted that, should we want to end the season strong, two players are very key to that; one is Granit Xhaka and the other, Partey. Arsenal have won more games than they have lost in games were both started. Even in games where Arsenal lost, Partey was phenomenal. The second leg loss to Manchester City, the Ghanaian dominated in the midfield, but all that would count for nothing since Arsenal lost.

In December 2021, he granted Sky Sports an interview and when asked to assess his Arsenal career so far, not sure I've seen a player so honest as he rated himself 4/10. He admitted he loses focus easily in games and I agree with him as he sometimes took too long on the ball, making it easy for opponents to steal from him.

Ever since that interview and honest assessment, Partey has become the life of Arsenal. It was like that confession broke a mental chain that had held him from believing in his talent. He has managed to stay fit and one of the certain names in the starting lineup for Arsenal every other matchday. This culminated in him winning the Arsenal Player of the Month for February.

According to Whoscored.com, Partey has averaged 7.43 rating per game in his last six since that abysmal outing in the league cup against Liverpool where he played barely hours after returning from Ghana's exit from the African Nations Cup.

He also earned the Man of the Match in the win against Leicester City last weekend. In the game, he won all of his duels, made four tackles (the most in the game), made six interceptions and two recoveries. Hee completed 42 of his 47 passes. In the previous game against Watford, he had the most passes (62), won the most duels (8), had the most take-ons (3) and won the most aerial duels (8).

Credits to Arteta as well. The gaffer has kept faith with him and eased him back into the team gradually during those times he was injured. Arteta preferred that he'd be allowed enough time to recover to come back stronger than rush him back after recovering, this we are also seeing with the way he's handling Emile Smith Rowe's return to the squad.

On horrible part of Partey's game which I didn't think was there is his shooting. He was horrible with his long rangers when he first arrived, but lately, he has seemed to do a bit more work on it and the heights of the shots have reduced and now on target. Good thing he's now adding goals to his game with his two goals yet for the club both coming at the Emirates and with his head. Both goals were also the opening goals in those games, against Aston Villa in October and Leicester over the weekend.

Aside from Partey finding his own form, he has also made other players around him better. Attackers like Odegaard and Saka are able to flourish because they have someone like him handling things for them in the middle. Need not forget to mention that he has also improved Xhaka, with the Swiss venturing more forward and avoiding getting to make those dangerous tackles that could get him sent off. Partey on his part, though a tough marker too, doesn't make reckless challenges and always prefers to win the ball cleanly.

I'm ecstatic that Partey is finally coming to the party and he'd prove a worthy player to build the team around for the foreseeable future.

Don't forget, _no Thomas, no Partey._