Torreira: Can Arsenal Cope in His Absence?
Lucas Torreira has become an influential figure at Arsenal since Mikel Arteta arrived at the club in December 2019. He joined the club last season and had an instant impact with his combative style of play that won the fans over but as the season progressed, he lost some form before serving his country at the 2018 World Cup.
The start of the new campaign proved difficult for Torreira with the Uruguayan losing his place in the starting lineup to Matteo Guendouzi and in the games he managed to play under Unai Emery, he played out of position, much to his despair, that sparked rumors of a potential exit from the club with Serie A as the likely destination.
In the first 10 games of the season, Torreira started only two games and did not complete 90 minutes. Torreira is an ever present at the team since then, but he has become a cause for concern after his injury in the draw against Crystal Palace. The manager, Mikel Arteta, provided an update on his injury after the match,
“Matteo was really good when he came on as well, but Lucas has been in good form. He has given us a lot but I had to get him off because he wasn’t feeling good.
“It’s a muscle injury. We’ll have to assess it with the doctors tomorrow. We will know more the day after.”
Since Arteta took over, Torreira’s improvement is evident and increased his value to Arsenal. I pulled out some of his stats (via WhoScored.com) to juxtapose between his first four games for Arteta and the rest of his time under Emery,
|Bournemouth||Chelsea||Man Utd||Crystal Palace||2019/20 Average||2018/19 Average|
|Pass Completion %||88.3||88.7||87.5||88.5||88.7||87.4|
|Bookings (Yellow / Red)||(1 / 0)||(1 / 0)||(0 / 0)||(0 / 0)||(3 / 0)||(7 / 1)|
One standout attribute from Torreira’s stats since the introduction of Arteta to the side is his interceptions, as the Uruguayan performed admirably in his primary duties as a defensive midfielder. His absence was felt in the second half of the Crystal Palace game, as Guendouzi could not replicate what he offered on the field when he played alongside Granit Xhaka, and it is fair to say that the midfield was lost.
Torriera’s tackling, clearances and blocked shots increased under Arteta, with the manager allowing him to express himself freely in his favored position.
When Guendouzi and Xhaka play together, the Swiss plays a deeper role, allowing the young Frenchman to roam forward in a box-to-box like role.
However, Xhaka lacks the agility to function as a defensive midfielder, with his key strength, his passing range, that does not come into play when the Gunners are not with the ball. This clearly means that Guendouzi or / and Xhaka need a Torreira beside them to do the dirty work while they continue their roles as cultured midfielders.
The game against Sheffield United comes up this weekend and Arteta waits for updated information regarding Torreira’s fitness because with the way the Gunners play, the Uruguayan’s role is key and at this point, I don’t think we have an able replacement, unless something is done in the January transfer window, which I am pessimistic about.
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