Arsenal fans wanting to know a little bit more about new signing Thomas Partey need look no further than Atletico Madrid’s win over Liverpool in the Champions League last season.
The midfielder was the Spanish club’s best player as Atletico beat Liverpool 3-2 at Anfield – knocking them out of the competition they were defending in the Round of 16.
Partey was every bit the complete midfielder on the night, and most pleasing from an Arsenal perspective is he did it all on a BIG stage.
This, coupled with his comments before the match, should tell Arsenal fans everything they need to know about the type of big-game player Partey is.
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Before the match Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp attempted to get an advantage on the opposition – who the Reds were trailing by a goal to nil from the first leg – with some good old fashioned mind games.
He explained how the atmosphere at Anfield is enough to intimidate any team, and that Atletico would realise just how up against it they are when they walk out onto the pitch.
“It was the fight we expected, it was the atmosphere we expected but I loved so many parts of our game,” said Klopp, after Liverpool’s defeat in the first leg.
“It’s half time [of the tie] and we are 1-0 down. We don’t only play a second half, we play it in our stadium which is obviously completely different to this stadium here.
“They defended with all they had, their defending in the box was incredible. They only wanted this kind of result, 0-0 would have been OK for them.
“I don’t think I have to do it [stir up the crowd at Anfield] that much I think. I hope I can be a little bit more focused on the game.
“Our people will be ready, I know that. Welcome to Anfield, it’s not over yet.”
It’s fair to say that Klopp’s comments aren’t wide of the mark. Many clubs have buckled under the pressure of playing at Anfield.
But Partey isn’t one of them.
Before the second leg the midfielder hit back at Klopp.
“We are prepared,” he said. “It is a dream for me to play against them in their stadium. I hope it stays forever in my career. They are doing well. We have to be focused one hundred per cent. We know it will be difficult.
“Klopp said not many of us had played at Anfield? For us as players it is important that the team-mates help each other. Sometimes opinions are opinions. We are here to do our job.”
Partey followed up his comments by putting in one of the performances of his career and leading Atletico into the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 4-2 aggregate win.
It’s been a while since Arsenal have had a player who can really talk the talk and then walk the walk quite like this, let alone one who has silenced Klopp and Anfield.
Will Thomas Partey be a success at Arsenal? Have your say here.
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