Thomas Partey was injured and tried to walk off the pitch just before half time as Arsenal were 1-0 down at Tottenham.
At exactly the same moment, Tottenham launched a counter and made the most of Partey being out of position as they scored a crucial second. Although the Ghanian midfielder tried to get back on the pitch, the damage was done.
Thomas Partey was injured. Arsenal were 2-0 down. Mikel Arteta was fuming. Tottenham had won the north London derby.
Speaking to our partners in the UK at Sky Sports after the game, Arteta was critical of Partey.
“Thomas is out, he’s limping, he’s in pain, he has to come off and we lost a man in that crucial transition moment. He has to fall on the floor,” Arteta said. “I wanted him on the pitch, doing whatever he could for the team in that situation. No one expected him not to be in that position.”
Arteta is right here. Players are always told to go down and stay down if you’re hurt and the referee will either stop play or the opposition team will kick if out of play. Had Partey sat down on the halfway line, Tottenham probably don’t launch that counter and score right on half time to make it 2-0.
Going in only 1-0 down would not have been a disaster for Arsenal. 2-0 was.
Arteta then added this when speaking to reporters: “I was trying to push him back on the pitch, I don’t think he realized the gravity of the situation when he left his position. That was probably because he was in a lot of pain. There is nothing we can do at the moment to resolve that.”
“It was too quick, we were through, I think it was a four-against-three situation for us to play the final ball and we were through. Suddenly they were coming to us and Thomas is walking to me and I am trying to push him. I haven’t spoken to him. I don’t know exactly how it happened and if he felt something really serious. I will look at it and we will talk about it.”
Partey was okay in central midfield, although Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Moussa Sissoko definitely won the battle before and after he went off injured. What Arteta is asking for is a bit of game-management. Partey strolling off to the side of the pitch while the game is going on left a huge gap that Tottenham exploited.
Tottenham were savvy in every sense of the word to get their win and stay top of the Premier League table, while Arsenal were anything but as Partey’s naivety in this situation summed up the naivety from the Gunners as they played right into Tottenham’s hands all game long.