Mikel Arteta was thrilled with Thomas Partey’s display in Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Newcastle, but will keep the midfielder wrapped in cotton wool.
The Ghana midfielder made his first start since suffering a recurrence of a leg injury in the game with Tottenham on December 6.
He came on as a substitute against Crystal Palace last week and followed that with 66 minutes against Newcastle.
The display thrilled Arteta, but he will not overplay the former Atletico Madrid man on the back of his recent injury problems.
“Really happy,” Arteta told Sky Sports when asked to comment on Partey’s display. “He got better and better as the game went on.
“He had a big influence. He gives us things that are different to any other player.
“Still, we have to protect him as he has missed a lot of football in the past few months, but we are really happy with his performance.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted twice to help secure the three points and Arteta feels the goals will propel the forward’s confidence on to a higher plane.
“He tried in the first half and had two or three chances that he did not score, but he ended up with two goals and I think it is going to be really good for his confidence,” Arteta said.
“It was great for the team as it helped us win the match, so, overall, really pleased.”
Aubameyang did not finish the game, but it was nothing more than needing a toilet break.
“He had to go in so we decided to change him,” Arteta confirmed.
Once again, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka impressed and they put a smile on the manager’s face when he sees them play.
“I know what they are capable of doing,” Arteta said. “They put a smile on my face. The performances they are putting in are extraordinary.
"The expectation is going to be high with them so we have to take them through the right path.
"It's a mixture of energy, passion and a little bit of immaturity at times, which is good as you don't play as tense like the senior players. They did really well."