Africans Abroad: Newbie contest sees Partey and Ziyech eclipse Osimhen

Two of Africa's newest arrivals in the Premier League made their impact felt at the weekend as Hakim Ziyech and Thomas Partey continue to repay the faith of Chelsea and Arsenal respectively.

However, over in Italy, despite an encouraging start at Napoli, big mover Victor Osimhen was helpless to prevent his new employers' shock defeat by Sassuolo on Sunday as the hosts' ongoing weaknesses were exposed.

Partey prompts Vieira parallels

While Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stole much of the attention following his penalty winner against Manchester United on Sunday, Arsenal new boy Partey served another reminder why the Gunners were so keen to snare him from Atletico Madrid.

Paired alongside Egypt's Mohamed Elneny in an all-African midfield, the 27-year-old was imperious when up against United's Paul Pogba, whose own hapless display was epitomised by his clumsy lunge in the box on Hector Bellerin.

Aubameyang's goal, of course, ended his five-match wait for a strike -- his longest drought since 2014 -- but Partey and Elneny characterised an Arsenal side which was full of commitment, focus and power.

There's promise in this pairing, and on the day, the majority of Arsenal's play went through them.

It was a superb all-round display from Partey; no visitor made more touches, no one on the pitch matches his four dribbles, and he also retrieved the ball on six occasions.

His pass accuracy of 93.3 percent was also better than any other Arsenal starter, and Gunners fans will surely be delighted at the ease with which he has settled into life in the Premier League.

Pogba, the same age as Partey but having cost United over twice the Ghanaian's €50 million transfer fee, couldn't come close to matching the impact of his opposite number, even it was the Frenchman -- ultimately -- who decided the contest.

United legend Roy Keane, speaking on Sky Sports after the match, forecasted big things for Partey with the North London giants.

"He was outstanding," the former Ireland midfielder began. "He's obviously no mug having played in big games.

"When you watch a player live that's when you can judge a player and the more I look at him the more I wish he was in the United midfield; he's big, strong, aggressive, he can pass it forward, and he can deal with the ball.

"I had my battles with Vieira and I think this kid has got a chance of matching what Patrick used to do."

Glowing praise indeed, and with Partey and Elneny at the heart of that Arsenal midfield, the Gunners may finally have the centrepiece they've been crying out for.

Wait worthwhile for Ziyech

While Partey has made an instant impact at Arsenal, one of Chelsea's big African signings of 2020 -- Morocco's Ziyech -- has been made to wait to demonstrate what he's capable of in England.

The former Ajax man originally signed a five-year deal with the club back in February, but only made his Blues debut in mid-October due to fitness issues, and only started his first game for the club against Krasnodar in the Champions League last week.

After scoring in that match, he was influential as Burnley were swatted away 3-0, scoring another and contributing an assist.

Ziyech's invention and positive approach were clear from the off; he has a magnificent ability to improvise and innovate under pressure, regularly forcing the Burnley defence to turn as he sought out Tammy Abraham.

At times, Chelsea played with the imagination, control and crisp technical precision of Ziyech's former club, Ajax, in their pomp, and the North African may prove to be the perfect ideologue to transfer the rhythms of Amsterdam to SW6.

His first Prem goal came with a first-time effort from the edge of the box, and 20 minutes from time, he wrapped up the victory by picking out fellow new boy Timo Werner to add a third.

High-profile signings from the Eredivisie have had mixed success rates in English football -- Chelsea fans will have their own meagre memories of Mateja Kezman -- but not since Diego Costa in 2014 has a Blues player scored in both of their first two starts for the club.

Aina breathes hope into Fulham campaign

Early into the new season, Fulham were being written off by pundits aplenty, with the Cottagers struggling to get to grips with the top flight, losing their first three games, and shipping eight goals in the process.

Steadily, however, Scott Parker has begun to oversee the Cottagers' acclimatisation, with Nigerian duo Ademola Lookman and Ola Aina influential in their improving resiliency.

It was Lookman who's bright showing claimed a point at Sheffield United last month, and on Monday, it was Aina who played a key role in the Londoners clinching their first win of the season.

The hosts were already 1-0 up following Bobby Decordova-Reid's opener when Aina started a move down the Fulham right, instigating a sharp interplay with the goalscorer and Aleksandar Mitrovic before receiving the ball back from the Serb and slamming a left-footed shot beyond Sam Johnstone.

Credit must also go to Mario Lemina and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa in the heart of the park, while Lookman again showed glimpses of class, but Aina was Fulham's outstanding individual.

He certainly played as though he has a point to prove, having been cut loose by the Cottagers' local rivals Chelsea to join Torino permanently last year.

This was his first goal in English football, and having helped get Fulham's first win in the books, he will have a big role to play in their battle to beat the drop.

Napoli's weaknesses laid bare as Osimhen toils

Heading into this weekend, Napoli were being tipped as potential title contenders this season.

Apart from the 3-0 walkover defeat by Juventus that they were slapped with after being unable to fulfil the fixture, the Partenopei had been blemish-free in the league so far this season, taking a maximum 12 points from their other four matches.

However, the vulnerabilities that were glimpsed in their 1-0 home defeat by AZ Alkmaar in late October were laid bare on Sunday as they were stunned 2-0 at the San Paolo by Sassuolo.

While Kalidou Koulibaly and Osimhen were among the hosts' better players, the latter again failed to find the net as worries begin to creep in about his performances.

Against Benevento last weekend he was guilty of missing several chances, and imploded completely against Real Sociedad in midweek when he was dismissed after half an hour.

Again, against Sassuolo, his composure let him down, and while Osimhen took a game-high eight shots (three more than any other player), only two were even on target.

"We had many chances, we didn't convert them," coach Gennaro Gattuso told Sky Italia. "Our tempo was too slow when Sassuolo had the ball.

"We must keep working, keep improving, and find a way to get Osimhen better service."

For now, Napoli supporters continue to appear to be giving the striker the benefit of the doubt, but one goal in seven outings in all competitions is an increasingly concerning ratio.

Simy, Chukwueze among the goals

While Osimhen's scoring record in Italy requires some improvement, two of his compatriots did find the net this weekend, and could potentially stand the Super Eagles in good stead heading into the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

It remains to be seen if Simy Nwankwo will be considered by Gernot Rohr, but on the basis of this season's form, he surely deserves an imminent Nigeria recall.

The towering striker netted his third Serie A goal of the season on Saturday, albeit in defeat, as Crotone were defeated at home by Atalanta.

Another disappointing result as their wait for a maiden win this season continues, but Simy is reaffirming how important he will be in their battle against the drop -- he has 50 percent of their goals so far this term -- and reminding doubters just what he has to offer at this level.

Over in Spain, Samuel Chukwueze rounded off the weekend with the opener for Villarreal as they downed Real Valladolid 2-0 to move up to third in La Liga.

The Yellow Submarine have bounced back impressively since their 4-0 thumping by Barcelona, and after an assist against Qarabag FK in midweek, Chukwueze finally has his first goal since November 2019.

Questions have been raised -- not least by Samuel Eto'o -- about the wideman's end product, and while returns have been diminishing since his debut campaign in Spain, Monday's classy left-footed finish suggests that Unai Emery could be overseeing an improvement in the winger.