Why Thomas Partey was handed a surprise start against Wimbledon
Arsenal host Wimbledon in Carabao Cup 3rd round
Following their 6-0 demolition of West Brom in the second round of the Carabao Cup, Arsenal play host to League 1 outfit AFC Wimbledon this evening. The Gunners are looking to build momentum after back to back 1-0 wins that kickstarted their season following an international break spent at the foot of the Premier League.
There was a great deal of hope that the weaker opposition and nature of the competition, traditionally one in which youth is fielded, would see Mikel Arteta offer game time to some of the more impressive members of the U-23 side, such as Charlie Patino.
However, as was the case against the Baggies, the Spaniard opted for a strong starting XI, which includes Bernd Leno, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland Niles and Alexandre Lacazette. While all could be classed as backup players, none offer the excitement of youth that the Arsenal faithful were craving. Nevertheless, should they get the job done there will be no room for complaint.
🎺 @LacazetteAlex captains the side
💫 @g_martinelli01, @EddieNketiah9 return
🧤 @Bernd_Leno starts in goal
Our team news for tonight’s #CarabaoCup match against @AFCWimbledon 👇
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 22, 2021
Why Thomas Partey started
One of the more surprising players named to begin proceedings this evening however was Ghanaian midfielder Thomas Partey. Having proved so crucial to the Gunners, and with the North London derby just four days away (a game which he limped out of last season), fans were understandably left confused as to why he was risked in this tie.
However, Football.London journalist Chris Wheatley shed light on the situation, revealing:
“Thomas Partey asked to play tonight as he looks to fine tune his match fitness ahead of Sunday’s north London derby.”
I’m told Thomas Partey asked to play tonight as he looks to fine tune his match fitness ahead of Sunday’s north London derby. #AFC
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) September 22, 2021
Should the midfielder come through unscathed, it would be a massive bonus to him to have further game-time under his belt. Should he pick up an injury, however, more than a few Arsenal fans will begin pointing fingers.