“Everyone knows how important he can be” – Arsenal legend singles out midfielder for praise

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Former Arsenal star Gilberto Silva has praised midfielder Thomas Partey, but wouldn’t be drawn on comparisons between the Ghana international and himself and Patrick Vieira.

Gilberto was a key part of Arsenal’s Invincibles side in 2003/04, and became a real leader in his time at the Emirates Stadium, despite getting off to a slightly slow start to life in the Premier League.

Now considered a club legend, Gilberto spoke to Goal ahead of Arsenal’s big game against Tottenham in the North London Derby this weekend, and singled out Partey as a key player for the club if he stays fit.

It’s not always gone to plan for the former Atletico Madrid man due to injuries since he joined the Gunners, but Gilberto is clearly backing him, provided he also gets help from those around him.

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“Everyone knows how important he can be for the team,” Gilberto said.

“Having this calibre of player is always good for the players because they trust him, especially in that position where many things are decided.

“I hope that he is going to be 100 per cent fit to play 90/95 minutes and help the team. This is what we expect from big players. In this kind of game, they increase their level of quality to push others.

“He is somebody who makes a difference on the field. This is what we expect from a player like Partey.

“Obviously he has quality but it’s hard when you compare someone. He has his type of game and me and Patrick had the way we played. The partnership between us worked fantastically and for you to play well, sometimes you need somebody on your side on the same level to raise your game.

Thomas Partey in action for Arsenal

“At that time it was not only me and Patrick. We had players around us who gave us the support to increase the level of our games. This is the difference.

“Partey is an important player, he has the possibility to grow even more. But it’s important that the other players come with him, improve their level, the way they play and build up this strong, winning mentality.”

Arsenal fans will hope Partey can start to show his true form in the red and white shirt, and starting today in this important clash with Spurs would be ideal.

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