Arsenal continued to rectify their poor opening to the season by extending their winning run to 3 straight games against Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon.
Although Unai Emery’s side were far from their very best at St James’ Park they managed to come away with a solid 2-1 victory which enabled them to join Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur on 9 points.
After a thoroughly impressive opening to the campaign in Arsenal’s midfield anchor role, Emery handed Matteo Guendouzi his 5th successive start, but a flat opening 45 minutes from the Gunners convinced Emery to drag him off in place of Lucas Torreira at the interval.
It was a decision which almost immediately paid dividends as Arsenal found themselves 2-0 up within 13 minutes of the restart after Torreira had injected some much needed attacking impetus from central midfield.
With that in mind, it’s an ideal time to assess the credentials of both players to thrive at Arsenal and which central midfielder represents the best value for money signing.
That Emery has opted to select the 19-year-old acquisition for all 5 of Arsenal’s opening fixtures speaks volumes about how highly he is regarded by the new manager.
His composure in possession, desire to play the ball forward at every available opportunity and youthful exuberance have pleased supporters so far, and he’s been lauded by Arsenal legend Ian Wright on more than once occasion since he arrived in north London.
Guendouzzi certainly hasn’t been mistake free in midfield, far from it, but his burning desire to receive the ball at every available opportunity – even when his opposite number is in close proximity – is a skill which eludes players of his age and takes years to perfect, so sporadic errors are par for the course.
At just £7.2 million Guendouzi looks to be an absolute bargain already.
TT Grade: A
The 22-year-old Uruguay international may have arrived at the club in a £27 million deal after thriving with Sampdoria in Serie A but he is yet to make a single start for the Gunners.
However, his failure to break into the starting eleven so far is certainly not a fair reflection on his overall ability as he possesses all of the necessary attributes to become a mainstay at the heart of Emery’s midfield as the season develops.
A report published by the CIES Football Observatory last week as cited Torreira as one of the bargains of the summer window, with Arsenal paying 11.9 million euros less than his true value to secure his signature.
With forward-thinking passing at the heart of his possession based game and with both the intelligence and tough-tackling ability to provide a solid shield for the back-four, Torreira will almost certainly endear himself to the Arsenal faithful by the end of the season.
TT Grade: A+
The research from CIES Football Observatory suggests that Arsenal completed a shrewd piece of business in signing Torreira.
Guendouzi’s eye-catching start to the season has given Emery plenty to think about with his options in midfield, but the young pairing could ultimately form the basis of a formidable midfield partnership in the years to come.
It’s a close call in deciding which midfielder deal was better for Arsenal this summer, but Torreira just edges it on the basis of his experience in Serie A and bargain price tag.
Arsenal fans – thoughts? Let us know below!