Frustrated Mikel Arteta warns Arsenal they must ‘eradicate’ ill-discipline after Thomas Partey was sent off for two yellows in THREE MINUTES as sub against Liverpool – eight hours after landing back from AFCON… the 14th red in under the Spanish boss
- Thomas Partey was brought on and the swiftly booked twice in the second half
- It was an embarrassing cameo for the midfielder, just back from the AFCON
- Second yellow was a rash challenge on Fabinho that could have been a red
- Fans and pundits criticised midfielder who is latest Arsenal player to be sent off
If one thing summed up an anti-climatic night for Arsenal it was the late red card for Thomas Partey which neutralised the reasons for rushing him home for Africa and made Mikel Arteta fume.
Partey was named among the substitutes against Liverpool just 48 hours after playing for Ghana in the Africa Cup of Nations and touching down in London at midday on Thursday, less than eight hours before kick-off.
Having left the equatorial climes of Cameroon behind, Partey sat on the bench swaddled in multiple layers clothing as temperatures dipped towards zero, until summoned in the closing stages.
Thomas Partey (left) was shown two yellow cards just minutes apart against Liverpool
Partey had come on for Alexandre Lacazette but lasted less that 20 minutes on the pitch
He came on in the 74th minute to replace Emile Smith Rowe, performed as if suffering from jet lag, collected two yellow cards in three minutes, the second for a late tackle on Fabinho, and was ordered off by referee Martin Atkinson.
‘It is a big loss,’ groaned Arteta. ‘We can’t afford to be without him with the players we have out.
‘We have to learn from that. We have played three games with 10 men recently and against top sides you cannot do that. It is difficult enough to beat them with 11 men, with 10 it becomes a real challenge.’
It was a 14th red card in little more than two years under Arteta, three in the last four games. They managed to keep 11 on in a defeat against Nottingham Forest, in the FA Cup.
The Ghana midfielder had only landed back in London hours earlier from the AFCON
Partey committed a number of fouls when he came on and looked well off the pace
‘We have to eradicate that completely,’ said the Arsenal boss. ‘We have to be competitive to be winning football matches. We have to be playing with 11 players. We have to learn lessons and we can’t accept excuses.
Partey will now be banned from Sunday’s Premier League game against Burnley, and this was fixture Arsenal had in mind when he was rushed back as soon as Ghana crashed out of the tournament in Cameroon.
Plenty of fans took to social media to react to the red card. One wrote: ‘Another red card in the competition in both legs of the game. When will this suffering end.
Another posted: ‘Another red card. Some of our players are absolute imbeciles.’
While a third surmised: ‘Thomas Partey just came from AFCON to come get a red card at Arsenal. He’s certainly not taking the early exit well.
To emphasise the point, fellow midfielder Granit Xhaka is still out, serving the second match of his two-match ban for a red card at Liverpool in the first leg of the semi-final.
Partey will now be out of action when Arsenal welcome Burnley in the Premier League
Mohamed Elneny is still on international duty at the AFCON and without them Arsenal lack physical presence in the midfield. They were dominated in that department by Liverpool.
‘We are disappointed,’ said Arteta. ‘We did everything we could to put out a competitive team and we had moments against a top side. I know what some of these players have done to play.
‘Five or six of them without a training season and we will try to use that in a positive way.’
There was special praise for his Japan defender Takehiro Tomiyasu.
‘What he’s done is incredible, he didn’t have a training session,’ said Arteta. ‘We didn’t want to play him but without Cedric Soares and Calum Chambers we didn’t have any right backs and he said he would play. I am proud of the players and grateful.’