Thomas Partey stakes claim ahead of Tottenham clash as Arsenal pile pressure on title rivals with Chelsea rout

Thomas Partey will hope to keep his place in midfield against Spurs (AFP via Getty Images)
Thomas Partey will hope to keep his place in midfield against Spurs (AFP via Getty Images)

Crisis, what crisis? Only days ago, Arsenal’s season looked liked it was about to veer off track, but now they are flying towards the finish line.

This was a rout and a thumping win over Chelsea, who were as bad as Arsenal were good. The gap between the two sides in the Premier League now stands at 30 points - and it shows.

The only gap Arsenal will care about, though, is the one between them and their title rivals and they are now three points clear at the top.

Liverpool can go level on points with them if they win at Goodison Park on Wednesday, but Manchester City are now four off the Gunners.

They have two games in hand, starting at Brighton on Thursday, but the pressure is on them to respond to Arsenal.

Arsenal moved three points clear at the top of the Premier League (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Arsenal moved three points clear at the top of the Premier League (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Partey stakes claim to start north London derby

Not since the Community Shield all the way back in August had Arsenal started a midfield like this.

Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard have been regulars this season, but injuries has prevented Thomas Partey lining up alongside them.

Mikel Arteta was finally able to field the trio here against Chelsea and it will have given him plenty of food for thought ahead of Sunday’s clash at Tottenham.

Partey put in an impressive performance at the base of midfield, breaking up play and catching the eye with his passing. It allowed Rice to push forward and the England star excelled in a No8 role, setting up Trossard for Arsenal’s opener.

The debate for Arteta will be whether he brings in Jorginho for the game at Spurs, with the Italian performing well recently.

Partey, however, would give the Gunners more athleticism in the middle of the park against a Tottenham team who like to play on the counter and, on the basis of this showing against Chelsea, he can be a threat on the ball, too.

Havertz returns to haunt Chelsea

At the end of the first-half, Kai Havertz looked like the player Chelsea had sold in the summer.

Presented with one or two good chances, the German failed to find the net and you could sense the frustration inside the ground.

Arsenal have looked like a side who have lacked a ‘killer’ in front of goal at times this season and, for all of Havertz’s brilliant link-up play, it is routinely argued he isn’t that.

In the second-half here, though, Havertz looked a different player and he scored twice to help the Gunners put the game to the bed.

The first came after a brilliant ball by Odegaard, who curled a pass from out left into Havertz’s path. Racing onto it, the striker took it in his stride and finished high into the net.

The second was an equally good finish, with Bukayo Saka cutting in from the left and finding Havertz. The German composed himself with his first touch and fired the ball home with his second.

Questions over his £65million fee are a thing of the past.

Unsung hero White finally gets the spotlight

In a season where Arsenal’s defence has been repeatedly lauded, Ben White has often been overlooked.

Gabriel and William Saliba have earned plenty of praise for their performances in the heart of defence and White, in contrast, has quietly gone about his business.

Arsenal have had a headache at left-back for much of this season, but not on the other flank. White has nailed down that position and even played through the pain barrier at times.

This here was just reward for that as the right-back scored twice in the second-half to help Arsenal secure all three points.

White’s first goal was a real poacher’s finish as he reacted quickly to prod home Rice’s blocked shot. The second, only White will know if he meant it. Odegaard dinked a lovely ball over the top and White’s looped volley found the bottom.

Perhaps it was a cross, maybe it was a shot. Either way, White deserves a bit of luck.