Lucas Torreira: The poster-boy of Unai Emery’s new-look Arsenal

With Lucas Torreira’s stunning overhead kick ensuring Arsenal keep pace with Chelsea and Tottenham in the race for the top-four, FOX Sports Asia takes a look at how the Uruguayan has become the face of Emery’s Arsenal revolution.

When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took a touch and crossed the ball late on, the last man one expected to see inside the box to seal Arsenal’s win against Huddersfield was Lucas Torreira.

Yet, such has been the Uruguayan’s impact in this Arsenal side that it had to be him who scored the winner, that too in such acrobatic fashion. The Uruguayan positioned himself well before connecting perfectly with the ball to scissor-kick it past the Huddersfield keeper and into the net.

Unai’s General

Following the midweek draw with Manchester United and the late victory over Huddersfield, it is now 21 games unbeaten for Unai Emery’s side and Torreira has been the most important cog in Emery’s Arsenal machine as they churn out one late victory after another. In the midst of such performances, what can be easily forgotten is the fact that Torreira actually had a particularly slow start to life at the Emirates – having had to play his way into the team despite being one of the players Unai Emery demanded as a part of his summer overhaul.

Disappointing in a 20-minute cameo on the Opening Day against the champions Manchester City, he did not play more than 45 minutes for the next one month and his first full appearance came on September 23rd against Everton in a 2-0 win, putting in a battle-hardened performance and the former Sampdoria man hasn’t looked back since.

Following his first start in the Premier League for Arsenal, Torreira has started every match in the league for Unai Emery’s side and it’s not hard to see why. This was an Arsenal team crying out for a midfield enforcer ever since the latter stages of Arsene Wenger’s reign and it seems the problem has finally been addressed.

Flair and Steel

Unai Emery Arsenal head coach

While Arsenal haven’t lost the flair of Wenger’s era, what Unai Emery has added in Torreira is the steel to back it up. For a side so often accused by pundits of having a soft spine, or even lacking one altogether- Torreira was the dream signing.

A lack of presence in the centre of the park has been Arsenal’s undoing in big games in recent years – the win away against City in 2015, inspired by a Santi Cazorla masterclass their only victory of some credence in the past few years. The fact that it came nearly 4 years ago tells it’s own sorry story. Indeed, it has been the ‘big’ games where Torreira has made his biggest mark this season – bagging man of the match awards against both Tottenham and Liverpool. He should’ve won the gong at Old Trafford too, but for a curious decision to award Matic the honour instead in the aftermath of the game.

The stats back up Torreira’s credentials just as well – Arsenal concede lesser goals with him in the team than without, while the Gunners haven’t lost a single game since Torreira broke into the starting XI. Moreover, in terms of interceptions – he ranks higher than any other defensive midfielder from amongst the top-6 sides – making more interceptions per 90 minutes than each of N’Golo Kante, Nemanja Matic, James Milner, Fernandinho and Eric Dier, further underscoring his importance to the style introduced by Emery at Arsenal.

While it is definite that Lucas Torreira has become the poster-boy, the face of Emery’s overhaul at Arsenal, it’s also true that the midfielder has gone a step further and become arguably the Gunner’s best player during this period, which is no mean feat considering they also boast of the likes of Aubameyang, Ramsey, Ozil and Lacazette in their ranks.

All said and done, one thing for certain is that Torreira has cemented his place in the hearts of the Gunners faithful for quite some time to come.