Lucas Torreira deservedly walked away with the Man of the Match award on Saturday evening as Unai Emery’s Arsenal continued to impress with a 1-1 draw against Liverpool. A lot had been said and written since the Uruguayan made the move to London in the summer, claiming his spot in the Arsenal first-team and proving to be a good signing.
But after Saturday’s performance, it should rather been seen as a significant signing, one that proves that Arsenal’s new head of recruitment Sven Mislintat could be the key figure between the club and ultimate success. Torreira’s showing was nothing short of sublime and one that hasn’t been seen by a defensive midfielder at Arsenal in a long time, especially not against a team like Liverpool who have quite convincingly got the better of the Gunners in recent seasons.
What made Torreira’s spectacle a bit more pleasing on the eye was the fact that he operated as a box-to-box midfielder. From making two solid tackles on Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in the space of ten seconds in the first-half to almost scoring Arsenal’s opening goal in the second, the 22-year-old showed that he has adapted quite quickly to the Emery style of playing, especially after starting the season as a substitute.
At his age and for the price of a reported £26m, his move from Italian side Sampdoria could be viewed as one of the best signings Arsenal have made in recent times, given the importance and need for a defensive midfielder like him at the club.
Too many times in the past couple of seasons were the Arséne Wenger failure blamed on the absence of a player with the stature of Torreira. A link between the back four and front three is what Arsenal fans were crying for; someone who in an instant could turn defence into a tack by pinning a long ball or quick distribution to creative players like Mesut Ozil or Aaron Ramsey.
On Saturday both of those attributes were on display and although the general feel around Arsenal is one of confidence at the moment, Torreira had the Liverpool players guessing as to where he would place the ball next or where he might pop up next in terms of defending.