Mikel Arteta singled out “fantastic” midfielder Thomas Partey after Arsenal’s 2-1 win against Rapid Vienna. Arsenal kicked off their latest Europa League campaign in Austria on Thursday night and were made to work for the three points after falling behind early in the second half.
Taxiarchis Fountas set the hosts on course for an upset after intercepting Bernd Leno’s poor pass out from the back and firing into the back of the net from a tight angle.
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The Gunners goalkeeper almost gifted Vienna a second when he directed a clearance straight into the path of Fountas again, but ultimately managed to redeem himself by pushing the Greek forward’s effort away.
David Luiz then drew the visitors level when he headed home a pinpoint Nicolas Pepe free-kick, before Hector Bellerin set up substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to tap in the winner 16 minutes from time.
Partey was handed his first start for Arsenal since his £45 million ($59m) move to Emirates Stadium from Atletico Madrid on deadline day, and produced an all-action display in the middle of the park to limit the threat of an industrious Vienna outfit.
Arteta was delighted to see the 27-year-old build on a promising cameo appearance against Manchester City at the weekend by proving himself on the European stage and believes he will go onto make a huge contribution to his side over the course of the season.
“Partey looked really solid, really comfortable. He held midfield by himself in the second half when we were more open… He was fantastic tonight and there’s much more to come,” the Gunners boss said post-match.
“We know with the price we paid for him he’s going to have a lot of people looking to him. “Arteta added to Arsenal’s response after falling behind at Allianz Stadion: “We knew it was going to be a difficult match. We made it harder in the beginning with the goal we conceded.
“I really like the reaction. The second half we understood much better the spaces we have to attack. “In general we scored two good goals, the second was fantastic. We are delighted to start with a victory.”
Asked if he will continue to encourage his team to play out from the back despite Leno’s error: “It’s part of our game. We need to understand when we can do that and when we should kick the ball into the stands. “They will understand better and better the type of balls we have to play in those areas and to who in relation to the pressure that’s coming.”