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Mikel Arteta confirms role Thomas Partey can play to give Arsenal new dimension

Mikel Arteta was purring after Thomas Partey made an impressive full debut in Arsenal's Europa League win over Rapid Vienna.

Partey made his first start for the Gunners in Thursday's 2-1 victory, with BT Sport pundit Owen Hargreaves describing his performance as "one of the best debuts I've ever seen, honestly".

The 27-year-old ran the midfield – protecting Arsenal's defence, showcasing his wide range of passing and evading opponents with some nice touches.

Partey's authority in the centre of the park also allowed other players to get forward when the Gunners were chasing the game after Bernd Leno's mistake gifted Taxiarchis Fountas a second-half opener for Vienna.

It paid off, with David Luiz and Pierre-Emerick scoring to make sure Arsenal went home with the points.

And Arteta said Partey's performance boded well for the attacking style he wants to see his side playing.

"He looked really solid, really comfortable," said the manager in his post-match press conference.

"He held midfield by himself in the second half when we were a little bit more open and starting to take more chances attacking certain places with some players.

"He was fantastic tonight and there's much more to come from him."

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Arteta added: "This is about the structure we have as a team, the flow, the unity and the cohesion that we need in our team. He's one piece of that. Hopefully he's a big piece."

Hargreaves described Partey as "the perfect modern midfield player" in the build-up to Thursday's game – and afterwards raved about the Ghana international's performance.

“Everyone is looking to him and that’s a 10 pass and he’s a holding midfield player,” Hargreaves said, referencing a defence-splitting through ball.

“He’s ran the whole game and you can tell he’s been playing in the Champions League because it looks too easy for him.

“We saw before the whole range. Short, long, playing between the lines. Physically, that’s what he’s in there for, a little bit of steel.

“With the centre-backs, boys get in bad positions – don’t worry, I’m there.”

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