After a disastrous last season, a season which proved to be Arsene Wenger’s last with the North London club, few things were very clear for Arsenal. They needed heavy reinforcements in defence, as well as in the midfield. And so new players arrived at the Emirates, players from different clubs, with different attributes. Goalkeeper Bernd Leno came from Bayer Leverkusen, defenders Sokratis Papasthopoulos and Stephan Lichtsteiner came from Borussia Dortmund and Juventus respectively, and midfielders Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi came from Sampdoria and Lorient respectively.
Every word from Unai Emery today – On progress, Mesut Ozil’s fitness, Reiss Nelson’s move, orange juice (yep), starting Torreira and much, much more. https://t.co/YlYwe5iKYG
— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) August 31, 2018
So far, Leno is the only new signing yet to play in a Premier League match, as the new Arsenal manager seems to prefer the seasoned veteran Petr Cech over the young German keeper. Sokratis has cemented his place in the Arsenal XI, partnering Shkodran Mustafi in the defence, for the opening three games of the Premier League.
Lichtsteiner has had one appearance so far, brought on as a substitute in Arsenal’s opener vs Manchester City, and it seems like he has to be content being a back-up for Hector Bellerin, Arsenal’s first choice right-back since 2014.
Also thought Emery's comments on the full-backs were interesting after the game. It's clear how important they are going forward, but the balance isn't right in terms of the midfield covering them when they are in the attacking third. https://t.co/sCFZ4K2leM
— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) August 26, 2018
19-year-old Frenchman Guendouzi seems to have won Emery’s trust and has started all the three league games so far, partnering. Granit Xhaka in the midfield, ahead of the 22-year-old Uruguayan Torreira, who is yet to start a single game for Arsenal in the Premier League.
In all the three league games, Torreira has appeared from the bench, averaging just 33 minutes on the pitch per game. But if Emery is to be believed, the Arsenal fans could soon see Torreira starting for the Gunners. When the Spaniard was asked whether Lucas Torreira was close to starting, Emery said:
I am very happy with the player (Lucas Torreira) and I think every player can play. They also are working very well every day and demanding me with their works, to start the games.
I like this spirit and also the possibility to play for the first eleven is okay. Then there is a possibility to stay in the match and then play.
Every player, I am really, really very happy with how they are working and not only with Lucas, but for all.
Even with Guendouzi playing really good so far for the Gunners, in my opinion, Torreira should be played in place of the French midfielder, and partner Xhaka in the two-man midfield, behind Iwobi, Ozil, and Mkhitaryan.
With Guendouzi and Xhaka playing together, Xhaka was restricted to the defensive duties, while Guendouzi had the freedom to play up and down the pitch, creating attacks by playing through balls or putting in crosses.
Xhaka also prefers to be able to do the same, but being restricted to a defensive role, hampered his game and thus, Arsenal appeared to be very vulnerable to attacks from the opposition so far, already conceding six goals in the opening three league games.
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) August 25, 2018
With Torreira partnering Xhaka, Xhaka could play an advanced role in the centre-midfield, as compared to playing with Guendouzi, and operate as a playmaker, his best-suited role on the pitch. Torreira, primarily a defensive midfielder, could handle all the defensive duties and thus, make Arsenal better defensively, while also winning back possession quickly, with his swift tackles and interception.
Torreira could also be paired up with Ramsey, Ramsey having a free role, while Torreira again doing the defensive duties. Everything now depends upon Emery, and it would be interesting to see whom he drops, among the duo of Xhaka and Guendouzi, for giving Torreira a starting place in the Arsenal XI in the coming days.