Mikel Arteta critical over ‘bizarre’ Thomas Partey injury


Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey will miss the “next few matches” after suffering an injury in Sunday’s north London derby defeat at Tottenham, says boss Mikel Arteta.

Partey had been out for almost a month with a thigh problem before being selected to start Sunday’s 2-0 loss, but was unable to complete the game after picking up another injury.

Arteta said it was not a recurrence of the same injury and defended his handling of the Ghana international’s return, insisting he had not been rushed back ahead of schedule to face Spurs.

“He got injured in the same area, but not in exactly the same spot as before,” Arteta said ahead of Thursday’s Europa League group game against Dundalk.

“He had an MRI yesterday, there is an injury there, he will miss the next few matches.”

Asked if it was an unnecessary risk to rush him back from injury, Arteta said: “No, he did incredibly well, he was confident. We tested him three times and he had no symptoms.

“But in football you have a lot of unpredictable actions. He went into the floor, his knee got stuck, after he needs to stretch and get up up. Immediately he put a lot of stress in a similar area and he felt it again.”

Arteta had been critical of Partey for refusing to play on through injury during the defeat at Spurs after he left the field injured in the build-up to their rivals’ crucial second goal.

After Heung-Min Son’s stunning long-range strike had given Spurs the lead on the counter at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Arsenal were hit by another break in first-half stoppage time as the injured Partey vacated midfield and allowed Harry Kane to double the lead.

Arteta was seen attempting to push Partey back onto the field moments before Kane rifled Spurs into an insurmountable lead, and the Gunners boss admitted his player was in the wrong to leave the pitch.

“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,” Arteta told Sky Sports. “He has to fall on the floor.

“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.”

Speaking in his post-match press conference, Arteta added: “I was trying to push him back on the pitch, I don’t think he realised the gravity of the situation when he left his position.”

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