Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey is expected to return to first-team action on Tuesday, a week after sustaining an injury that has kept him out of the team for the past six matches. Manager Mikel Arteta said that the 30-year-old Ghana international will be included in the squad to play at Lens in the Champions League.
It has been a difficult time for Partey, a regular starter alongside Declan Rice in midfield, until he picked up the injury at the end of September. The former Everton player was a target for Saudi Arabia over the summer. Still, he chose to stay at the Emirates Stadium and was an essential member of the starting XI, even filling in as an inverted full-back on occasion.
Partey has been forced to watch his side slip out of the Premier League top four as they have stumbled over the line with their recent performances, while they were also dumped out of the FA Cup by Manchester City at the quarter-final stage. But he is poised to return to the starting line-up for the trip to France, and it will be a significant boost as Arsenal are already facing an uphill battle to retain their top-four status.
The good news for the Gunners is that Partey could be joined by winger Bukayo Saka and striker Emmanuel Abedayor as the club attempt to secure their place in the knockout stages. The pair both limped off in the weekend victory at Bournemouth, but Arteta has confirmed they are fit to travel with the rest of the squad to France.
Neither Abedayor nor Saka is expected to start at Lens, but they will likely make the bench. At the same time, Gabriel Martinelli should be available after he was left out of the squad following the hamstring problem that forced him off in the win against the Cherries.
Arteta may decide to make several changes from the side that beat Aston Villa, with Fabio Vieira set to replace Kai Havertz at right back and Gabriel Magalhaes potentially replacing Abdelhamid Sayed in central defense. But with Partey back in training, he will likely keep his place in the team as a cover for Rice and an alternative to the more attack-minded Kai Havertz. Partey has two years remaining on his contract at the Emirates Stadium, and it will be interesting to see if he can continue to prove his worth in the final year of his deal. He would add extra depth to a midfield short of options for the season’s final few games.