Arsenal’s hunt for a new midfield enforcer has troubled the club for years but Unai Emery appears to have resolved a nagging problem with the acquisition of Lucas Torreira.
Patrick Vieira was one of the best midfielders of a generation at Arsenal, and the club’s struggle to secure the signature of a player to help them move on from the domineering Frenchman has been a key narrative in their recent history.
Orchestrating and battling from the centre of the pitch, Vieira was the type of player which any Premier League title-challenger needs in the starting eleven.
Players have come and gone from north London to fill the long-standing void left by Vieira, but supporters have been consistently disappointed by the new signings – until this season.
Arsenal’s decision to sign Torreira in the summer was widely hailed as a smart piece of business, and that opinion has been legitimised by his early season form.
The 22-year-old has showcased a maturity beyond his years in midfield, where he has dictated the tempo from deep and burst forward into the final-third when appropriate opportunities have presented themselves.
Torreira’s soaring reputation culminated at the start of the month when he slammed home his first goal for the club to secure Arsenal’s 4-2 victory in the north London derby, and he scored for the second consecutive game at the Emirates Stadium to hand his side a narrow 1-0 win over Huddersfield on Saturday.
His dramatic overhead kick merely rounded off another complete performance from the Uruguay international, and he earned esteemed praise from Garth Crooks in his BBC team of the week column.
‘I told the former foreign secretary that Torreira was the difference between Arsenal and Spurs in the recent derby and has the drive and influence of an Emmanuel Petit. Torreira’s performance against Huddersfield was once again in that class.’
Well, Arsenal may well have been looking for a Vieira-esque player to transform their midfield, but it seems that Crooks deems his skill set to be more comparable to that of the 1998 World Cup winner.
Whether Torreira is more Petit or Vieira is up for debate, but what is almost unanimously accepted is that he has been an inspired signing thus far.
Arsenal look like a side revitalised with Torreira anchoring the midfield and it’s fair to say he has changed the complexion of the club in just a few short months.
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