This season, Thomas Partey has been outstanding for Arsenal and is without a doubt Mikel Arteta’s finest centre midfielder. It might also be said that he is among Europe’s best central midfielders.

This was demonstrated by the Ghanaian’s third-best dribble success rate among midfielders in Europe’s top five divisions during the previous season.

Only Marco Veratti and Frenkie De Jong outperformed Partey. If the 29-year-old wasn’t plagued by injuries, the £45 million release clause paid by Arsenal on deadline day in the 2020 summer transfer window would definitely be seen as a steal.

This is why Partey’s inclusion in the starting lineup against Tottenham in the North London Derby on Saturday is a significant boost, as he could prove to be the deciding factor in the game’s outcome in comparison to the encounter at the conclusion of last season.

Arsenal were humiliated 3-0 by Tottenham in the previous North London Derby, thereby ending the Gunners’ chances of finishing in the top four.

This defeat was followed by another defeat at the hands of Newcastle, which saw Mikel Arteta’s side drop out of the Champions League spots as Spurs moved in.

A major reason for the Gunners’ defeat in the previous derby was due to the absence of Thomas Partey, who had suffered a thigh injury that ruled him out.

Just like this season, the Ghanaian’s absence from the midfield is noticeable as Arsenal lose their dominance in the middle of the park.

This was evident earlier this season, when Arteta’s team travelled to Old Trafford on the heels of five consecutive victories.

Arsenal struggled in the midfield against United, eventually losing 3-1 when Albert Sambi Lokonga replaced Partey.

Arsenal has often struggled away from home against top-six opponents. However, having Partey available in midfield reduces Arsenal’s chances of losing.

This is why his possible availability for Saturday’s north London derby is a huge plus. Arsenal are hopeful that Partey will be available for the encounter against Spurs.

The Ghanaian was forced to leave national team duty early after picking up a knee injury ahead of their clash with Brazil.

Speaking after that news though, manager Otto Addo admitted this had been as more of a precautionary measure.

“Hopefully Thomas will be healthy very, very soon,” he said. “We didn’t want to take that risk in a friendly game to play him against Brazil, but surely playing a player like him against a squad like Brazil would have been helpful.”

Partey’s presence will be crucial for the Gunners in such a crucial fixture. He could be the key difference between Arsenal winning or losing the North London Derby.