How Lucas Torreira produced 'best midfield display in an Arsenal shirt since Patrick Vieira'

Any suggestions he might take a while to get used to his first North London derby were quashed almost immediately when he crunched Dele Alli in the first few minutes – boy did that go down well.

And it really set the tone from the outset with the tenacious Uruguayan delivering a man-of-the-match performance – yes, even better than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

So what made it so good?


Last season at Wembley, Spurs won the midfield battle and as a result they won the match.

Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele dominated that day but yesterday it was all about Lucas Torreira and his midfield partner Granit Xhaka.

Spurs started with a diamond midfield, anchored by Dier and spearheaded by Alli with Christian Eriksen and Moussa Sissoko also in the mix.

But they struggled to get through the Torreira-Xhaka wall with the diminutive midfielder winning three tackles, five duels and 12 recoveries.

It is just what you want from a holding midfielder.

Speaking on Match of the Day 2, Ian Wright said: "He’s he guy we’ve been looking for for the past four or five years. Everybody has been asking “when are we going to sign a defensive midfielder?” and now we have got that guy in Torreira."


Many of the best defensive midfielders – think N'Golo Kante – are happy to go and win the ball off the opposition but look far less comfortable with the ball at their feet.

It means they usually offload it to their midfield partner or look to find a centre-half or a full-back.

That's where Torreira differs – he wants to go forward at every opportunity and refuses to go back.

One particular example stands out during the second half: facing his own goal and under pressure from Dier, Ben Davies and Son Heung-min, he managed to somehow turn away from all three and start another attack.

As SunSport columnist Wright pointed out: "It’s the way he naturally gets into positions where he can get into people. And when he’s got time, he’s got quality on the ball.

"He’s natural at it. He can read danger and he can sense danger. Unfortunately sometimes you see Granit and he doesn’t really recognise danger. This guy [Torreira] sees it and he springs us forward as well."


When Arsenal fans heard they were signing a Uruguayan holding midfielder in the summer, they must have been excited.

There is a certain reputation associated with South American players like that: no nonsense, physical, tough in the tackle.

Lucas Torreira vs Spurs: The Stats

  • Minutes: 90
  • Goals: 1
  • Attempts on target: 1
  • Attempts off target: 2
  • Completed passes: 43 (90 per cent)
  • Accurate forward half pass completion: 86 per cent
  • Duel success: 50 per cent (from 10)
  • Tackles: 3 (67 per cent)
  • Recoveries: 12
  • Free-kicks won: 2
  • Fouls: 2

And Torreira the Terrier ticks all of those boxes… and more.

He put that heavy challenge in on Alli in the opening five minutes to the delight of the Emirates faithful and was not afraid to get involved in the numerous brawls throughout the game.

Gary Neville said: "When you see him busying around like a terrier, the rest have to respond to it and thrive off it.

"It just felt like they had some nastiness about them today. Even when Eric Dier scored they went over and had a scrap with them over that.

"I like that. Arsenal teams haven’t had a fight in them for years."


Torreira may have been playing in a holding midfield role against Spurs but he was effective all over the pitch.

As his heat map shows, he filled in at right-back when Hector Bellerin pushed forward in attack, looked to create and was often the link-man with Aubameyang and Co up front.

He managed 68 touches and, although he may only be 5ft 5in, his presence on the pitch is massive and continues to grow.

Arsenal legend Wright added: "He was magnificent today, absolutely brilliant. When you look at the way he plays, when you look at his touches – he’s everywhere. He’s everywhere on the pitch."

And goalkeeper Bernd Leno explained just how crucial Torreira is to the side: "Torreira is incredible.

"He’s a fighter and he’s so important for our game, for the whole defence. He produced another perfect game."


As if he had not already produced the complete performance in one of the biggest matches of the season, Torreira went and bagged his first Arsenal goal to really cap it off.

He went close during the second half, letting fly as the ball fell to him on the edge of the area but it whistled just beyond Hugo Lloris' top corner.

The Uruguayan got it in the end, though, picking his spot and slotting in when Aubameyang fed him through.

He ripped off his shirt in celebration – cue the yellow card – showing just how much it meant to him.

Perfection. Oh, and he's still only 22.

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown wrote in the Daily Mail: "It was the best all-round midfield display I have seen in an Arsenal shirt since Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva used to run the show.

"He was utterly fearless, demanding the ball at all times, always eager to snap into tackles and snuff out danger.

"His tireless running gave Arsenal an extra body all over the pitch. You got the sense that if he could, he would happily do everyone else’s job!

"In Torreira, Emery has a little dynamo on the pitch who sets the standard."

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