Tag Archives: Lucas Torreira

Emery revolution picks up steam

After 2 defeats in the opening two games of the Unai Emery era, the agenda driven and attention seekers were getting on the Spanish managers back.

The majority of us, however, realised the fixture list computer had given us a nightmare start to the season – a home game against Manchester City and a visit to Stamford Bridge – and vocally backer the new man.

After those two defeats, it was only those attention seekers and a few in the media attempting to create a story who tried to show Emery as a man under pressure.

One leading journalist even went as far as saying Emery was “his favourite to be first manager sacked”.

Three games on, and 5 games into the new season, we now sit level with Tottenham on 9 points.

The 2-1 victory over Newcastle made it 2 away victories on the trot – the first time since May 2017 we had won 2 away games in a row.

An average first half was changed at half-time when Emery pulled off Matteo Guendouzi, replacing him with Lucas Torreira.

Every time the Uruguayan has pulled in an Arsenal shirt, the team have looked better. He now needs to start.

The game was not without its heart in mouth moments as Arsenal continued to try and play out from the back.

Whilst Petr Cech and the defence get a lot of the criticism, the problem is in the midfield.

When the ball is with the defence, there is a lack of midfield options, resulting in the defenders having to go backwards to Cech and sit deeper.

Granit Xhaka and Guendouzi rarely made themselves available in the first half to their defenders.

Often finding themselves marked, they were not giving their defenders that forward option.

This left the only option to go backwards towards Cech.

Man City always have 2 or 3 options, and have the get out ball of playing back.

When the ball goes forward into the midfield, everyone pushes up a few yards. Then when it comes back into defence everyone is further up the pitch creating more space.

When those midfield options are not there, the ball goes back to Cech and suddenly you are in your own 6-yard box with opponent attackers pressing.

It changed when Torreira came on

Suddenly both Torreira and Xhaka were available to take the ball off the defence with a forward pass.

The player on the ball had options.

Torreira is sharp in his passing. Rarely taking two touches to release the ball. He just quickens is up – speed is important when we are playing out of the back.

Guendouzi has had a decent start, but he is currently a little too slow on the ball in the Premier League.

Another new signing who had a fantastic game was Sokratis.

The Greek centre back was a beast on Saturday.

He won everything, put in some key tackles and showed he was not as slow as some have made out. Brilliant signing.

We now have a run of 4 home games in a row – 2 in the Premier League and 2 cup games. 4 wins from he 4 games has to be the minimum target.

Victories over Watford and Everton in the league would leave us with 15 points from the first 7 games.

That sort of form might not be enough to make you title contenders, but would keep us on course for top 4. It is early doors but you extend that form to 38 games and it would give us 81 points – which was Manchester United’s total when they finished 2nd last season.

Onwards and upwards with Unai Emery’s red and white army.



Positive, positive Arsenal

As I sit here on Sunday afternoon writing this I am in a relaxed and reflective mood.

A weekend of seeing family, a BBQ in the sun and then a pub lunch in Epping Forest on Sunday in the rain, I have had a cracking weekend even if it meant I missed going to The Arsenal.

And The Arsenal result has certainly helped with my mood.

After a tough two opening games for Unai Emery, we face West Ham on Saturday, winning 3-1 in what was a fairly rusty display.

Some tried to paint Emery as a man under pressure. I saw one journalist say he was “favourite for the sack race”, and that he was under tremendous pressure from the Arsenal fans.

It was certainly a case of the journalist trying to create a story rather than report the news.

The only people I have seen being super-negative about the start of the Emery-era are attention seeking wankers in social media.

Regardless of whether they were previously Wenger-In or Wenger-Out, there is an equal number abusing Emery for RTs and recognition. On both sides, thy have shown themselves as not true Arsenal fans and are best off ignored.

As for the game, I was not at it as have only seen brief highlights on Match if the Day.

From the 8 minutes of football I saw, the following observations were made:

  • Sokratis is the proper defender we have missed for a decade
  • There is a player in Granit Xhaka; he just needs to be used correctly
  • We need to play Lucas Torreira behind Xhaka
  • Mkhitaryan is a different player when Ozil isn’t playing

There are clearly some huge positives to be taken from the beginning of the Emery-era; even if it has taken 3 games to get the first positive result.

The difference between the Liverpool / Arsenal punditry made interesting listening too.

They heavily criticised Arsenal for sending both full backs forward, but then praised Liverpool for employing the same tactics and saying “thats the modern game”.

It highlights that the “expert” pundits will change their mind on tactics depending on what agenda they want to pursue.

In this case it was criticise Arsenal & praise Liverpool.

What would have been good is for someone to take the time comparing the way both sides set up.

The issue is not that Arsenal’s full backs bomb forward, but the lack of cover they get from their midfielders.

Liverpool played with Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner sitting.

Both men would cover outwide when their full backs bomb forward.

Manchester City use a different tactic, with Fernandinho sitting between the centre backs creating a back 3 when Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy bomb on.

Arsenal’s problem is, and has been probably since Gilberto Silva left the club, that no one in the middle of the park covers the full backs when the go forward.

It just further supports playing Torreira and Xhaka together.

A two man shield will mean that we can have a solid 4 men covering the full backs when the are in the opposition box.

It is all about balance.

Whilst I have mentioned Liverpool. They are top. 9 points from 9; and are being talked up as potential champions. The crown already on their head.

But they have played West Ham (h), Crystal Palace (a) & Brighton (h).

Some perspective is needed.

Last season, Arsenal were awful in finishing 6th. Yet they beat West Ham (h), Crystal Palace (a) & Brighton (h).

So had we had Liverpool’s opening 3 games this season in 2017/18, we would have been top of the league, 9 points out of 9.

This season I would expect Arsenal to win all 3 of the games Liverpool have – we have already won 1 of the 3.

We are 3 games into the season. Just like Arsenal were not a bad team after losing to Manchester City and Chelsea, beating West Ham, Crystal Palace and Brighton does not make Liverpool a great team.

Have a good bank holiday Monday and it is back to football on Sunday with a visit to Cardiff.

Let’s be positive and ignore those negative attention seekers.


Arsenal spend right rather than big

As the transfer window trundles to a close today prior to the Premier League opener tomorrow, I thought I would share some thoughts on the market, and how Arsenal have performed.

My thought can be summed up in the statement it is not what you spend, but who you buy.

Fans can often become obsessed with the value of the player, rather than the ability of the player. Thinking that the more expensive the player, the better he must be. But with brilliant recruitment you can sign top class players at the fraction of what other clubs are spending.

It is dangerous to look at what other clubs have spent over what they have actually signed.

This summer West Ham, Everton, Fulham and Leicester City have all outspent Arsenal (at the time of writing – Wednesday lunchtime), and some people might use that fact to attack the club. But look at what the actually signed.

Everton spent £42million on Richarlison from Watford. He hasn’t scored since November, and no assists since December.

West Ham also went big on an attacking Brazilian, spending £38million on Felipe Anderson. The former wonderkid has never really developed into a consistent performer and £38million is a lot of money for a man who was restricted to just 9 starts last season due to a serious knee injury.

Leicester City signed James Maddison for £25m, Ricardo Pereira (who?) for £23million and Liverpools 9th choice goal keeper Danny Ward for £12.5million. Over £60million spent on Championship players.

Also buying Championship players are Fulham who have spent £37million on Aleksandar Mitrovic and Alfie Mawson – two players who have previously been found wanting in the Premier League.

Now lets shut our eyes and imagine Arsenal bought the 7 players mentioned in this blog. Nearly £180million spent. Would you say it is good business? No. It would be big money wasted.

Arsenal spent just £67million on Stephan Lichtsteiner, Bernd Leno, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira & Mattéo Guendouzi.

What would be the better business? £67million on what Arsenal got, or the £180million on a bunch of tripe?

Perhaps what sums up what I am saying is 4 players signed by Arsenal and Chelsea. Two a piece.

Lucas Torreira + Bernd Leno =  £42million

Jorginho + Kepa Arrizabalaga = £130million

Now I am now saying Chelsea have made poor signings. Joringho is a very good central midfielder and Kepa a top young keeper. But are they much better than Torreira and Leno? Are they even actually any better?

Torreira and Jorginho both played in Italy last season, slightly different styles of play. They both bring a lot of ability to the middle of the park. For me, they are both equally as good as what they do. Torrieira defending, Jorginho keeping the ball moving.

As for the goal keepers, Arsenal are getting an experienced German keeper who is on the fringes of the national team, Chelsea a less experienced Spanish keeper who is on the fringes of the national team.

The uneducated amongst us will point to Chelsea and say “they have spent £130million, they have shown ambition” whilst criticising Arsenal for “going cheap”. But the reality is the quality of the players being bought in is not much different.

Arsenal have not gone cheap, they have bought the right players at a good price. Meanwhile Chelsea have probably over paid for what they have bought in.

I have always been a student of Soccernomics where you do not focus on what has been spent, but what has been bought in, and what Arsenal have bought in is plenty to be happy about.