Thomas Partey has revealed how Mikel Arteta planned his ‘assist’ for Gabriel Martinelli’s goal during Arsenal’s 3-2 win over Watford on Sunday.
With the score at 2-1 early in the second half the Gunners boss raced out of his technical area to retrieve a misplaced pass from Imran Louza which had gone out of play, enabling Bukayo Saka to take a quick throw in that set off a delightful team move involving Cedric and Alexandre Lacazette which culminated in Martinelli’s finish.
When asked about it after the game Arteta appeared to imply that it was a spur of the moment thing. “Everybody can contribute somehow and I had the opportunity to do that, so it’s good,” the Spaniard said in his post-match press conference.
But now Partey has revealed that there was slightly more thinking behind the event.
“We train this, we try to play quick,” the Ghanaian told Arsenal’s in house media after the game. “In the end what we trained we were able to take to the game.
“I am very proud of this team and we are happy. We have to continue in this way.”
Martinelli’s strike put the Gunners into a commanding 3-1 lead after first half strikes from Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka had come either side of Cucho Hernandez’s bicycle kick, and despite Moussa Sissoko’s late consolation it proved to be the deciding goal in the match.
The result means that Arsenal are now up into fourth having played three games less than fifth and sixth placed Manchester United and West Ham.
With just 13 games remaining in the Premier League season this puts them in with a great chance of finishing inside the top four, but Partey went on to reveal that he and his teammates are not getting too carried away just yet.
“I think we are mentally strong,” the Ghanaian said. “We want to go game after game and this is what we are doing. I hope we continue with this form.”
The Gunners collective performance was superb on Sunday but after the match there was one player that Partey wanted to single out for specific praise in particular.
With a goal and an assist at Vicarage Road, Bukayo Saka became the player under the age of 21 with the most goal involvements in the Premier League this season, moving clear of Emile Smith Rowe who was absent due to COVID-19.
There is some doubt over Saka’s future with just two years remaining on his contract come the summer, but Partey revealed that he is hopeful the England international will stay in north London to realise his potential at the Emirates.
“We all know what he is doing. He is one of the best young players in the world now,” the former Atletico Madrid midfielder said.
“I think he is doing a great job. I hope he stays with us for a long time and does what he can, and tries to take this team far.”