Tag Archives: Lucas Torreira

How have Arsenal’s new boys settled in?

With us in the middle of the most boring time in football – a pointless international break filled with glorified friendlies, it is perhaps a chance to reflect on the start of the season, and see how the new boys have bedded in.

Bernd Leno

To many peoples frustration, Petr Cech start began the season as first choice keeper.

Unai Emery’s philosophy is that new players have to force their way in, to prove that they are better than the incumbent first team players. This led to Cech starting the season as number 1.

Leno’s opening came when Cech limped off injured against Watford in the league. Prior to that he had only played in the Europa League and League Cup – where he conceded goals but did not have much to do.

Against Watford he looked a little shaky, coming off the bench. However he made some smart stops and distribution was excellent.

Fulham was a vastly improved performance, with some sharp saves. He could have done little with their goal.

It will take a while for him to get used to the physical side of the Premier League – with the bumping and barging at corners. His shot stopping and distribution are certainly up to standard.

With Cech set to miss the next 3 or 4 games, Leno will have plenty of time to establish himself as first choice.

Stephan Lichtsteiner

The experienced Swiss right back has not had much of a chance this season.

Beyond a substitute appearance at left back versus Manchester City, his 3 starts have been limited to the Europa League and League Cup.

His influence on the pitch may well be happening at the training ground, however.

Lichtsteiner has bought some leadership to the playing squad, and you have to feel that he has bought his winners mentality to the training ground.

We have also seen improvements in Hector Bellerin as the season has gone on. The presence of Lichtsteiner must surely be helping to push the Spaniards performances to the next level.

It would not overly surprise me if Lichtsteiner’s one-year deal was extended by a further 12 months.


Greek centre back Sokratis (I can not be bothered to Google his surname) has split opinion.

Some have labelled him clumsy, slow and uncultured, whilst others have praised him for being aggressive, and focusing on defending and clearing the ball.

I fall into the later camp.

We focus too much on ball playing centre backs. “Rolls Royce defenders” like Rio Ferdinand. Players like the now retired Englishman who looked classy but could also defend are few and fair between.

Sokratis is a defender. He defends. That is what he is paid for.

What he creates is a rock at the back that others can play around. A reliable defender that will let Arsenal go out and get a ball playing partner, knowing they have a solid option next to him.

He is more Vidic than Ferdinand, and is exactly what Arsenal have needed for a decade.

Lucas Torreira

Uruguayan central midfielder Lucas Torreira has been a revolution since he broke into the team. He is exactly the player we have been missing for some years.

Like Sokratis, he understands his role within a balanced XI. He is there to defend, to shield the back 4, to provide them cover. His influence on the entire team is obvious to all.

Torreira not only defends, however. He can also play. Comfortable with the ball at his feet, he has given the side another passing option alongside Xhaka.

The sign of a top player is they make those around them look better, Torreira has done this with Xhaka. It is a partnership that we can look forward to developing as the years role on.

It is incredible to think that Torreira is just 22-years old. He will deveop into one of the best central midfields in the world.

Whilst Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool went big on Fred, Jorginho, Fabinho and Kieta, Arsenal secured Torreira for just £22m – we clearly got the best player.

Onwards and upwards for the lad!

Mattéo Guendouzi

The greatest compliment you can give Matteo Guendouzi is that people are now wondering why we did not cash in on Aaron Ramsey in the summer.

Football is easy in hindsight, and no one could have guessed when we signed the 19-year old Sideshow Bob impersonator from the French Division 2 for just £7million that he would be pushing senior team mates down the pecking order.

The fear for the club over the summer with Ramsey is that we only had 2 senior midfielders – Xhaka and Elneny. Torreira was a new signing and Guendouzi was coming in to be on the fringes of the first team squad. He was pencilled in for the Europa League and League Cup.

Due to players returning from the World Cup, Guendouzi got some game time. And he has proved the old age correct. If you are good enough, you are old enough.

People already actually forget that he is just 19. He is younger than Mason Mount, who was called up for the England squad after some impressive displays in the Championship.

He has not been perfect this season. He is a little bit slow on the ball when passing, and doesn’t easily make space for himself to receive the ball off the defenders. But he is 19-years old, and will improve.

Guendouzi has moved ahead of Elneny in the pecking order and is first choice back up for Xhaka and Torreira. His performances are going to save Arsenal a lot of money when it comes to Ramsey leaving.

The Frenchman will have a bad patch. All young players do. But with the squad depth around him, Emery will be able to take him out when he is performing poorly.

This lad has a bright future.

In summary, the first full transfer window for Sven Mislintat has been a success. He has added some experienced leaders to the squad, and signed some very talented young players.

He seems to have bought pro-active planning to Arsenal’s transfers for the first time in years.



The Influence of Lucas Torreira

He comes from Uruguay, he’s only 5-foot high

It took a few games for Unai Emery to integrate Lucas Torreira into the Arsenal XI. It was baffling at the beginning of the season why the Spaniard did not play the £22million summer signing.

As with everything to do with the new manager, I backed his decision. There must have been reasons for it. But the team was desperately calling out for him to start. We lacked the balance in the opening games that he could bring us.

Two of Arsenal’s biggest problems in recent years is space in behind over exposed full backs, and the reliance on Granit Xhaka as the sole shield in front of the back 4.

At the beginning of this season, Hector Bellerin came in for some largely unfair criticism.

He was caught out a lot on the right hand side, balls in behind him leading to chances or caught out up field whilst the opponents broke. A lack of winger ahead of him or lack of central midfielder to cover him left him overworked, often in two-on-one situations.

At the time I call for Torreira to come in, that he would fill the gap the full-backs leave when bombing forward. He would cover both in front and behind them.

In the last 3 Premier League games, Bellerin’s performances have dramatically improved. He is getting quality into the box going forward, and does not look exposed at the back. This is the Torreira affect.

Granit Xhaka has also performed well recently.

He was never the deepest lying midfielder. His natural game is to press around the half way line. Be aggressive higher up the park. Win the ball to launch attacks. But to do this he needed someone behind him to clean up his mistakes. That if he is bypassed higher up the pitch, the opponents are not straight at the defence.

By playing Torreira alongside Xhaka, the Swiss midfielder has a partner in crime. Someone to share the defensive load. Someone who will allow him to be more aggressive up the field.

It is not a coincidence that Torreira’s first Premier League start led to Arsenal’s first clean sheet – a 2-0 win over Everton. That in the 3 Premier League games he has started, Arsenal have conceded just once.

It is not just defensively that Torreira has improved Arsenal.

With a nearly 90% pass completion rate in the Premier League, he has given the goal keeper and defence another options when playing out of the back.

His one and two touch passing is excellent. He has a picture in his head of what is happening and is able to release the ball quickly. He keeps it simple, playing to team mates in space.

We struggled at the beginning of the season playing out of defence. One problem was that in the midfield they only really had Xhaka looking for the ball. This led to the ball going back to the goal keeper too often which led everyone to drop deeper.

Now when the defenders, or Bernd Leno, get their head up, there are two options.

Xhaka and Torreira.

Double the options also means the player they are passing too has more time.

Previously an opponent would put 2 men on Xhaka. This would take him out of play of lead him to be under a lot of pressure when he received the ball.

With Torreira and the double pass option, the midfielders are receiving the ball in more space, under less pressure. It makes the passing safer, the situation more relaxed.

With Torreira and Xhaka in the middle, we look more balanced than we have done since the Fabregas / Flamini years.

A brilliant signing.


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.