Tag Archives: Lucas Torreira

Nelson and Willock set to be dropped as Pepe in line for first start

Arsenal will look to continue their 1 game unbeaten run in the Premier League this weekend against Burnley.

Having beaten Newcastle 1-0 at St James’ Park, Unai Emery has a bit of a selection headache.

Does he stick with the players who defended well, but created little for the match against Burnley; or does he bring in some of the fit again senior pro’s, including a couple of new signings.

Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson, Matteo Guendouzi and Calum Chambers all performed well against Newcastle and probably do not deserve to be dropped. However Emery will know how important it is to play the best team available, even if it ruffles a few feathers.

David Luiz sat patiently on the bench against Newcastle following his deadline day arrival. He had a full pre-season with Chelsea and is ready to play. Will Emery pick Luiz over Chambers or Sokratis? My bet is Emery might just reward Sokratis and Chambers with a fine 1st display and keep the pair in defence.

With Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac all out for one reason or another, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Nacho Monreal will be the full backs.

Moving to the middle of the park, the axis of Granit Xhaka and Guendouzi provided good cover for the defence. But at home against an average side, do we need to play 2 defensive midfielders? Could Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos come in for one? Giving the side a more creative option for deep.

And what for Lucas Torreira?

The Uruguayan midfielder played next to no part in pre-season (just 4 minutes against Barcelona) due to only returning to training on 1st August after the summers Copa America. Taking into account Xhaka and Guendouzi played a full part, I would not expect him to start against Burnley – he did not even get off the bench against Newcastle.

If Arsenal are winning comfortably, I expect Torreira to come off the bench and be given 20 minutes as he regains full match fitness.

That leaves Xhaka, Guendouzi and Ceballos fighting it out for the central midfield positions.

I actually think we might see all 3 start, with Ceballos replacing Joe Willock as creator in chief.

Willock had an OK game against Newcastle, but his performance is more remembered for a tackle than anything he created. He is a hard working talented footballer and I see his career actually being a little deeper than playing Number 10.

At home against Burnley we do not have to worry as much defensively, so it might be a better option to play the more attack minded Ceballos with Willock relegated to the bench.

On the wings, record signing Nicolas Pepe looked fairly sharp on Sunday despite only recently returning to training following playing in the African Cup of Nations and the stress of his big move.

Games like Liverpool away is why Pepe was bought. His pace and power key on the break. For that reason I expect him to start against Burnley on the right hand side, replacing Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Pepe to be substituted off on 60 minutes will be a bank bet if he starts.

The left wing is an interesting conundrum.

Nelson had a solid game against Burnley and you also have the aforementioned Mkhitaryan. Alexandre Lacazette is also available which gives Emery the option of playing Aubameyang wide left.

With one eye on that Liverpool game, I have a hunch that Emery might plumb for Lacazette up top and Aubameyang on the left. That will give 60 minutes to his 1st choice front 3 – Aubameyang, Lacazette, Pepe.

It might be harsh on Willock and Nelson, but football is not a business of compassion. We ned to play the best team we can. That means an exciting front 4 of Ceballos, Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

Expect Willock and Nelson to come off the bench (if we are not chasing the game) as well as Lucas Torreira.

It is exciting to actually have so many options.

Expected starting XI:


AMN Chambers Sokratis Monreal

Xhaka Guendouzi

Pepe Ceballos Aubameyang




Arsenal could target Lucas Torreira “friends” to help him settle

Talk of Lucas Torreira joining AC Milan is intensifying.

The majority of the talk of his departure comes off the back of an interview with talkSPORT’s International presenter Alvaro Romeo

Romeo has interviewed Torreira on numerous occasions over the last 12 months, and he explained how Torreira has struggled to settle at the London club.

‘The language has cost me, to be able to relate with my peers and with the people. It is very difficult when you can’t have dialogue.’ Said Torreira

‘And so is the climate. You go out in the morning and it is cloudy, you arrive late to your home and it is cloudy.

‘It is strange a little bit, the sun, the more of us that we are here and we are accustomed to having always or almost always the sun.’

Whilst Uruguayans speak Spanish (according to Google), it is not a pure form of the language, and is also influenced by the Portuguese of Brazil and Italian language. The Portuguese influence is a variant of Rocha, with bilingualism or the fusion of Spanish and Portuguese, known as Portuñol.

So whilst Unai Emery and most of his staff speak Spanish, as well as Nacho Monreal, Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi and Mesut Ozil, they do not speak the exact same language.

In Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sokratis, Arsenal also have a few players that speak Italian.

The problem is football clubs are full of cliques.

At Arsenal the biggest clique is the Franco-German one, containing the likes of Aubameyang, Ozil, Mustafi, Sokratis, Alexandre Lacazette, Matteo Guendouzi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Sead Kolašinac. Think back to nearly a year ago and “balloon gate” and those that were present.

This has meant that Torreira has perhaps felt isolated that many those who he could “relate to” would prefer to speak in German or French than Spanish.

You then have Bellerin who has been in England for so long he is basically a cockney.

Bellerin is a mysterious individual. There is always a feeling that he enjoys his own company, doing his own thing such as going to fashion shows. You rarely see or hear of him socialising with team mates, and it is clear his friendship group is not really football related, but with the Spanish community within London.

So the talk of Torreira struggling to settle probably has some legs in it.

Arsenal perhaps need to work harder at ensuring players do settle in England. Players struggling in their 1st year is not a new thing in football., and is certainly not just a problem Arsenal face.

Didier Drogba spoke brilliantly about his struggles to settle at Chelsea following a move from Marseille. It took him and his family a few years to settle and he had very little help from his club. As he became a senior player, Drogba went out of his way to ensure new signings had an arm round them and Chelsea developed a “new signings programme” based on Drogba’s advice.

In an interview back in 2009, Drogba said:

‘My family were feeling so good there so it was difficult for them to adapt here because of the difference between the language and everything.

‘But I think every player when they leave their country they need one year to adapt.

‘It took me one year so I think maybe one year is enough.’

It is nearly identical to what Torreira has said about Arsenal. Talking about the struggle to adapt, the language, the climate, everything.

Robert Pires struggled with life in England, but was surrounded by the likes of Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry. Arsenal’s French clique at the time could often be found frequenting the coffee shops around Hampstead. Had Pires not had the support network around him, he stay at Arsenal would probably have been brief.

To ensure Torreira does settle, and is not swayed by a move abroad, Arsenal need to provide him the support required.

Whether that be instructing the likes of Bellerin and Monreal to look after him (maybe this is why Monreal got another year). The club could help Torreira is go into the transfer market and sign him a “friend”. A team mate who he could relate to, build his own clique around.

Arsenal have been linked with Dennis Praet and Joachim Andersen this summer – two players who were team mates of Torreira at Sampdoria.

At Liverpool, Luis Saurez was taken under the wing by Lucas Leiva to help him settle.

Those speculating about Torreira’s departure are only focusing on the first part of the quotes where he talks bout his struggle to settle. They ignore the 2nd part of the interview where he says:

‘But as the years pass, I’m going to be adapting.

‘But for me, the balance was positive and I am satisfied and happy with what I did in the year.’

AC Milan may well be chasing Torreira, and looking to exploit the fact that it has been a tough 1st year for him to adapt in England. But Torreira is speaking about the future at Arsenal and clearly understands that as time passes, he will adapt.

What is clear is that Torreira is not demanding to leave Arsenal as he is ‘homesick’ and Arsenal just need to ensure that they build a support network around him (and other new signings) to help them settle.

If this means going out and buying him some “friends” then so be it.


4312 for The Arsenal is not “too defensive”

Arsenal’s best performance this season came against Chelsea. A 2-0 victory in a game that The Gunners dominated.

The formation we played in that match was 4312. It is a formation we have played numerous times since; and one which Unai Emery has come in for some stick for.

Fans wrongly claim that we are playing 3 defensive midfielders. Lucas Torreira Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi. They are not all defensive midfielders.

Gunners Town recently spoke to a Lorient fan about Arsenal target Alexis Claude Maurice. During the discussion they talked about Guendouzi, who signed from Lorient last summer.

They expressed surprise at Arsenal fans labelling Guendouzi as a defensive or holding midfielder, as he has only ever been box-to-box growing up and was utilised in an attacking free role last season in French Ligue 2.

And that is the truth, Guendouzi does not play as a defensive midfielder. He is more box to box. A proper central midfielder. Like what Patrick Vieira was.

It seems in many fans mind, you are either an attacking midfielder (Mesut Ozil) or a defensive midfielder (Claude Makelele). There is nothing in between. But there is, and that is where Guendouzi sits.

Xhaka has also never really been an out and out defensive midfielder. In fact he struggled at Arsenal when he was the primary defensive midfielder.

For Borussia Mönchengladbach and Switzerland, he always played with someone behind him doing the bulk of the defensive work.

A hulk of a man, Xhaka did contribute to his sides defensively, but his man job was transitioning the ball from defence to attack with his excellent passing. He is not as box to box as Guendouzi, more a deep lying play maker. He certainly is not a defensive midfielder.

Lucas Torreira is the closest we have to a defensive midfielder, but even he is not a Makelele or Gilberto Silva.

The Uruguayan gets forward a lot more than someone who is simply a shied in front of a defence. And he is a much better passer and creator then people like Makelele, Gilberto or Fernandinho.

Whilst for Arsenal he is the deepest of the midfield 3, he is more than capable playing further forward. He is a talented guy.

The reality is, Emery is building a high energy midfield trio who can provide solid cover for the defence, but also push forward and press high.

Playing all 3 ensures that they can push forward backing up the front 3 when they press, knowing that one will still sit so that they are not all cut out with one ball through the midfield.

They also allow Hector Bellerin and Saed Kolasinac to bomb forward and provide extra cover for them.

I like the 12 upfront as well.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both love dropping out wide. This then creates space in the middle for an attacking midfielder to bomb into. Aaron Ramsey would have been ideal for this role with his goal scoring record.

Back to the midfield, I can see us continuing to play 3 in the middle next season. It is why Emery is looking at the likes of Adrien Rabiot and Christopher Nkunku. If we play 3, we need 6.

If we secure both Frenchmen, it will enable us to cash in on Mohamed Elneny and, alongside Ainsley Maitland-Niles, we will have the midfielders we need to play the way Emery wants.

As for those who are still moaning about it being too defensive, let me ask you a question:

Is Liverpool’s midfield too defensive?

Liverpool also play a midfield 3. A trio combination of Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho.

Let’s compare their Premier League statistics to the lads at Arsenal:

Xhaka – 1885 minutes played – 3 Goals; 1 Aassist

Guendouzi – 1466 – 0G 0A

Torreira – 1790 – 2G 2A


Fabinho – 1096 – 1G 2A

Wijnaldum – 1774 – 1G 0A

Henderson – 1234 – 0G 0A

Keita – 970 – 0G 1A



Arsenal midfield:

5140 minutes played

5 goals; 3 assists

Liverpool midfield:

5074 minutes played

2 goals; 3 assists

Yet no one is saying Liverpool’s midfield is “too defensive.”

The truth is, playing Xhaka, Torreira and Guendouzi is not too defensive. It is probably the only part of the Arsenal side that is solid and actually working at the moment.