Wright hails Arsenal ‘game-changer’ after Saints victory

Arsenal legend Ian Wright views the signing of Thomas Partey as a “game-changer” after he was influential in their 3-1 victory over Southampton on Tuesday.

The Gunners moved up to eighth in the Premier League table after a 3-1 victory at St Mary’s just three days after losing on the south coast in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Stuart Armstrong had smashed Southampton ahead with a fine early strike but the visitors would lead at the interval courtesy of goals from Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka.

Alexandre Lacazette would wrap up the points later on but Wright reserved praise for summer signing Partey.

Wright told Premier League Productions: “He’s a game-changer simply because of the way he plays in midfield. He’s somebody who does not pass the ball sideways.

“He wants to pass it forwards and that gets everybody forwards. If you’ve got people like Emile Smith Rowe and Saka in the area where they can pick up the ball and go forwards, run with it and progress it then all of a sudden you’ve got their defenders going backwards.

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“You’ve got people starting to make runs and you are starting to create which we weren’t doing a few weeks back.”

The Ghana international limped off near the end of the fixture at St Mary’s and Mikel Arteta will be hoping to have him available for the match against Man Utd at the weekend.

On Partey’s condition, Arteta said: “From Saturday, just to make it clear, we had five players who were not available to play. We made seven changes and five of them were because they were not ready to play the game.

“KT [Kieran Tierney] was one of them and Thomas was another, and you could see today that he could not last for 60 minutes, so we have to manage those players, to protect them. Sometimes they are not fit but I cannot explain every single day how every player is feeling.

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“We don’t know, we don’t know. He was feeling some discomfort and hopefully it’s nothing, but he was struggling.”

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