Tag Archives: Lucas Torreira

5 changes Unai Emery needs to make at Arsenal

Return to 4 at the back

I have never been a fan of 3 at the back.

It puts too much onus on the full backs, less to too much space in behind them and not enough cover in front.

To play 3 at the back you need your wide centre backs to be comfortable at full back.

Tottenham can do it as in Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweild, they have two central defenders who have previously played full back.

Arsenal need to return to 4 at the back.

Play Xhaka/Torreira in the middle

The axis of Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira is the best central midfield pairing in the Premier League.

The pair compliment each other. Both can defend, both can pass.

Torreira has allowed Xhaka to push further up the park, allowing him to be his aggressive self on the half way line. The Uruguayan also gives us that extra bit of protection when Xhaka miss reads a tackle or pass.

Both also have tremendous ability on the ball. Playing the pair gives the defence and goal keeper 2 options when playing out from the back. It is no surprise our passing is a lot better when both play.

Ultimately, the statistics speak for themselves:

Sign genuine width

Alex Iwobi is not good enough to play week in, week out. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are not natural wide men. Arsenal need to invest in a pair of wide forwards.

Playing 4 at the back, with Xhaka and Torreira in the middle, Arsenal have a stable base and centre. Add two wide men either side of a number 10 and the team is starting to take shape.

In the early part of the season, we were a threat in behind the opponents fulls backs. This was due to Iwobi and Aubameyang getting in behind – or making space for Bellerin and Monreal to get in behind.

With Iwobi and Mkhitaryan playing narrow, we lose all width and cover for the full backs.

Reiss Nelson returns in the summer. We need someone one the left hand side.

Decide his best striker

A tough decision needs to be made up top.

We have two top class strikers who broke our transfer record. Unai Emery needs to decide who his first choice is; and stick to it.

Do not panic

We have just lost our first game after going 22 unbeaten. We are in the race for 4th and progressing nicely in Europe.

Against Southampton we were a defensive mess. We were without our 3 first choice centre backs and started the game with a midfielder and a right back in central defence.

At the final whistle the only two defenders on the pitch have not started a league game for a combined 12 months.

There is not need to panic. No need to be rash in the transfer market.

Emery is here for the long term. Sanllehi and Mislintat have a long term vision. There is no need to rip that up just because we lost 1 game.

Keenos

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How would long-term Arsenal target Adrien Rabiot fit in?

Long term reported Arsenal target Adrien Rabiot has announced that he is set to leave PSG on a free transfer at the end of the season.

The 23-year-old central midfielder was linked with Arsenal over 6 years ago; when he was just a 17-year-old who had yet to play a game.

Over the years, he has been in and out of the PSG team and missed out on France’s World Cup success after refusing to be put on the reserve list.

A tall, elegant central midfielder, he has never really fulfilled his potential that he showed as a teenager – with PSG preferring the midfield partnership of Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti as he struggled to break through.

Last season under Unai Emery he played 50 games – starting 27 in the league and 8 in the Champions League.  He has continued to be first choice under Thomas Tuchel.

With Aaron Ramsey set to leave Arsenal as a free transfer, Arsenal could well see Rabiot is an indirect replacement.

Signing Rabiot would mean that Arsenal could cash in on Mohamed Elneny and line up with midfield options of:

Grant Xhaka
Lucas Torreira
Adrien Rabiot
Matteo Guendouzi
Ainsley Maitland-Niles

It would be an exciting group of central midfielders with plenty of strength and would more than cover Emery’s preference of playing 2 deep midfielders; with one out and out defensive and the other box-to-box in his favoured 4231 formation.

A sticking point would be as to what role Rabiot would play.

Emery has previously spoken about Rabiot being a defensive midfielder rather than a box-to-box; with the Frenchman believing he is more box-to-box.

Emery said: “Let’s talk about Rabiot. He’s a central midfielder, who is more comfortable playing as a defensive midfielder rather than a creative one. Even if he remains more of box-to-box, rather than a defensive midfielder.

“When you want to play with a defensive, creative and box-to-box-midfielders in fixed positions, Rabiot finds himself confronted to a problem. He has to run, run, run and not play in a fixed position statically. And even less so with his back turned on the action.

“Rabiot doesn’t really like playing as a defensive midfielder, he likes playing as a box-to-box, but I prefer him as a defensive midfielder. That’s why after the elimination against Real Madrid [in the 2017/18 Champions League], I told him he would play as a defensive midfielder.

“In that position, he can be faced with play and switch around with [Marco] Verratti. He is more competitive in these conditions. With certain players, you can’t impose a strict idea. You have to adapt yourself to their characteristics in order to win in individual and collective competitiveness.”

Another sticking point could be salary.

BeIN Sport reported earlier this month that Rabiot had turned down a new contract for a third time, with PSG reportedly offering him £6.32m a year to remain with the Ligue 1 champions. That works out to a little over £120,000 a week.

Granit Xhaka is reportedly on £90,000 a week; Lucas Torreira on £75,000 a week.

All 3 players are equally as talented, and would be in a fair fight for the 2 central midfield roles. What would it do to squad harmony if we bought Rabiot in on twice as much money (potentially) as Lucas Torreira?

Some will say that Rabiot is superior to Xhaka and therefore justifies the higher salary. However Emery is unlikely to see it that way.

Xhaka is box-to-box in the current set up, with Torreira as the more defensive option. Rabiot would more likely be competing with Torreira to play behind Xhaka.

Regardless, all 3 are close when it comes to their talent. To have vastly different salaries could be dangerous.

As seen, Rabiot would not be guaranteed a starting place at Arsenal. Himself, Xhaka and Torreira would be rotated – so would all still get plenty of game time. Would Rabiot go from regular starter at PSG to rotational starter at Arsenal?

A move for Rabiot would be a positive one for Arsenal. There are plenty of minutes to accommodate 3 top class midfielders and still find enough time to bleed through Matteo Guendouzi.

Guendouzi is still just 19 and would not have expected to have played so much this season – 9 starts in total in the league. He is still developing and is not yet at the standard of Rabiot, Torreira or Xhaka.

You can easily see a situation that in 3 years time, Arsenal cash in on a then 29-year-old Xhaka and promote Guendouzi. He will still be just 22-years-old (the same age as England’s next big talent Harry Winks is now!).

Guendouzi, Xhaka, Ramsey & Torreira have started 44 league games between them this season; so it is clear that there are plenty of games to go around.

The one loser would be Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but he would still have a future at the club.

Firstly he is a home-grown talent; which is very important. Secondly he can cover central midfield, left and right back, and is competent on the flanks.

Maitland-Niles is still just 21. He would get plenty of game time in the cups and would get the odd league game. His future at Arsenal is as a utility man.

Would I sign Rabiot on a free? Yes

Keenos

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.

Sokratis

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.

Keenos