Arsenal’s Torreira enjoying Emirates life, as Uruguay meet Brazil
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Arsenal’s Uruguayan maestro Lucas Torreira is convinced his new-look midfield partnership with Granit Xhaka can fire Unai Emery’s Gunners to success this season.
Torreira joined Arsenal from Sampdoria in July after helping his country reach the World Cup quarter-finals in Russia.
After initially missing out on selection against Manchester City and Chelsea in the Premier League, Torreira has become a mainstay for Arsenal this season, inspiring the Gunners to 11-straight wins in all competitions.
The diminutive midfielder has formed a robust defensive shield alongside Switzerland international Xhaka – and Torreira believes the partnership with only improve.
“Granit is a player that I link up a lot with in the midfield and he covers lot of ground on the pitch,” said Torreira, speaking to promote a friendly between Brazil and Uruguay on Friday, November 16 at the Emirates Stadium in London.
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“He occupies space really well and is important to the defensive balance of the team, which the manager knows.
“He’s an outlet for the first pass from defence and frustrates the opposition attackers.
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“When he’s playing well the team are going to win games. We’re gaining points, me and him are playing minutes together and gaining experience together, which is important.
“The manager has spoken to me a lot and made sure I understand everything. It’s important that he is able to explain everything to me in Spanish because it can be quite complicated when he’s explaining the principles of the team.
“He wants to make sure the whole team understands the points he is making the best they can.
“As time goes on I am going to get to grips better with all the tactical aspects of how Arsenal play.
“Last year I got used to Sampdoria’s style of play, where we had three players across the midfield, and I’m now adapting to Arsenal’s and there just being two of us, playing alongside Granit.
“There are many things I can improve on but that will come with time. We are going to have a much better understanding, we’ll only improve and when things are going well, the team will become even better.”
It may be Emery’s first season at the Arsenal helm after 22 years under Arsene Wenger for the Gunners – but Torreira is still predicting it will be a success this season come May.
Pundits and former players alike have predicted a season of transition as Emery settles into new surroundings in North London.
But Torreira thinks Arsenal will compete on all fronts this season, admitting he has been impressed with the quality and star names on show at the Emirates.
“My first aim is to secure my place in the team, then to learn the language (English), which is very important to me in order to understand my team-mates,” said Torreira.
“I want to understand the game in the Premier League because it’s completely different to Italian football.
“Then there are big aims for the team as a whole – we’re competing in four competitions and three are already underway, although the FA Cup hasn’t started yet.
“In the Europa League, we have already got a couple of important wins because it’s a difficult group.
“For me, the most important objective is just to keep improving as a player and as a person – hopefully my team-mates can get to know me and understand what sort of person I am.
“As time passes, I want to continue the way I’m going, and the work journey is the most important to me. I believe we can have a successful season at Arsenal because it’s a motivated and exciting team.
“Both Mesut (Ozil) and (Alex) Lacazette are fantastic people and incredible players who have the quality of touch we need in this team. They dictate the pace and the play in every game.
“Lacazette is in great form at the moment and scoring a lot of important goals for us.
“Mesut is a player that when he has the ball, it’s very hard for opponents to take it off him because he has such quality.
“As his team-mate, especially in the middle of the park, you’re so calm with him there and he’s composed on the ball.
“It’s fantastic for me because I arrived in a changing room with such influential players and on my first day, they said to me where my locker would be located and it’s right by Ozil and Lacazette.
“It’s something that I definitely couldn’t have imagined for a moment or dreamed about. It’s a privilege and something that I’m really enjoying.
“Mesut speaks a bit of Spanish because he played in Spain for a while and Lacazette is a really nice guy as well. We’re always laughing and sharing jokes, so we get on really well.”
Torreira will be hoping to continue his success on the international stage as well after it was announced Uruguay will host Brazil in an international friendly fixture at the Emirates on Friday November 16.
A host of star names will be on show, including Uruguayan strike force Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, plus Brazilian ace Neymar.
“It will be an awesome game,” he said. “It’s a friendly but it’s still such an important game. Every time you pull on your national team’s jersey you are giving it all your strength and taking it seriously.
“We want the result to go our way but the important thing is that the team looks good and it feels like we are continuing to grow.
“We’ve got to maintain our calm as a product of the coaching and show the growth of this team. And at this point in time, the clash with Brazil should be a great match.
“When I heard that the game against Brazil was going to be in ‘our house’ (Arsenal) I was very happy because it’s a ground that fits the occasion.
“It’s a fantastic stadium with a big capacity that I’ve experienced in an Arsenal shirt, so lots of fans will be able to watch. It should be a lot of fun and a great spectacle.”
*Brazil take on Uruguay in an international friendly at Emirates Stadium, London on November 16 (8pm). Tickets from £30 on sale at www.arsenal.com/tickets.