Arsenal have got a new No.5. And he’s their old No.18.
Thomas Partey has taken on his ‘lucky’ shirt number for the new Premier League season, his second in Gunners colours, and he can’t wait to get started.
“I like the No 5 because it’s one of the most important numbers in the team and it is also a lucky number for me,” Partey told the Gunners website.
“It’s the number I’ve worn for the past few years, so for me it’s one of the best numbers.”
But who will Partey be following in the footsteps of once he dons the new digit?
Well, he might not be aware of this, but there have been seven other players who have worn the shirt for Arsenal in the Premier League era, and unlike the former Atletico Madrid man, they’ve all been centre-backs.
Partey will be the first Arsenal midfield No.5 to grace the Premier League, and so he’ll be hoping to make a bigger impact further forward than this lot.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos – 2018-19 to 2019-20
The big Greek defender always looked as though he was going to be at Arsenal for a good time, not a long one, when he signed for the Gunners two years ago at the age of 31.
He had his moments, and the fans did warm to him for the passionate way of playing, but ultimately he always looked to lack the pace for the Premier League.
Gabriel Paulista – 2014-15 to 2016-17
An £11.3million arrival from Villarreal in January 2015, Gabriel would go on to find a home among a clutch of recent Arsenal centre-backs who have never quite convinced you during their time at the club.
He clearly had ability, and demonstrated it occasionally, but after two-and-a-half seasons he was packed off back to Spain to join Valencia having played 64 games for the Gunners.
Thomas Vermaelen – 2009-10 to 2013-14
If only things had been different then Vermaelen could still be an Arsenal player today.
The 35-year-old is, after all, in the Belgium squad at the current European Championships, and it is hard to think that it is now seven years since the former captain left the Gunners having seen his time in north London decimated by injury.
He managed 150 games in five seasons at the Emirates, and was a key player when fit.
Kolo Toure – 2006-07 to 2008-09
Having graduated to the No.5 shirt in 2006, the Ivorian defender probably demonstrated his most consistent of form his time at Arsenal as he developed into one of the more impressive centre-backs in the Premier League.
However despite his own impressive displays, a lack of cohesion in his partnership with William Gallas soon led to him starting to look elsewhere, and he joined the start of the Manchester City revolution in 2009.
Martin Keown – 1999-2000 to 2003-04
Having previously donned the No.14 shirt for the Gunners, Keown took ownership of the No.5 in 1999 and ensured that its legacy of no-nonsense defending lived on.
The centre-back won the Premier League three times with the Gunners, adding the FA Cup to make it a double in 2002, and his reputation as one of the club’s toughest ever performers has long been established.
Steve Bould – 1995-96 to 1998-99
Serving Arsenal both a player and then later a coach, Bould’s place in the annals of Gunners history is a very clear and deserving one.
The centre-back arrived at the club from Stoke in 1988, and would go on to claim two old First Division titles and the Premier League before taking up a role with the Gunners academy in 2001.
Twenty years later, he’s only just left the staff following two decades of loyal service.
Academy manager Per Mertesacker, a former Gunners No.4, said in a statement last month: “Steve has been a fantastic servant for us on and off the pitch.
“His record as a player speaks for itself and he has been an inspiration to generations of young players coming through the academy.”
Andy Linighan – 1993-94 to 1994-95
Centre-back Linighan was the first player to sport the Arsenal No.5 jersey after the Premier League switched to squad numbers in 1993, getting two years out of it.
His biggest moment for the club had come a year earlier though, when he headed the winner deep into extra-time in Arsenal’s FA Cup final win over Sheffield Wednesday, whom they had also beaten in the final of the League Cup that year.