Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has called on Gunners boss Unai Emery to begin starting ‘tenacious’ midfielder Lucas Torreira on a more regular basis.
The Uruguay international was heralded as one of the team’s stars of last season, but he has only started four Premier League games so far this term [Source: Transfermarkt].
Keown has told Emery he needs to get the 23-year-old more involved.
“Torreira has not been playing full stop,” he told Metro. “I’d like to see him in the Arsenal midfield. Whether you play him as a deep-lying midfielder or you play him wide or with someone else sitting deeper or two either side…it doesn’t matter as long as he is in the team. He hasn’t played enough for me.
“I would have thought it would have been very obvious that he has to play. He’s tenacious. The Chelsea game at home, the Liverpool game at home last season, he was playing in that team and Arsenal looked better for it.
“This is why I think the fans went against Emery because [Granit] Xhaka played no matter what when Torreira had to sit on the bench. [Dani] Ceballos plays one game for Arsenal [against Burnley] and was absolutely brilliant but he’s back on the bench. Maybe it’s Xhaka he needs to take out.”
Is Keown spot on, here?
Given the Gunners’ indifferent form this season and the poor conduct of Xhaka – who was continually picked ahead of Torreira – it certainly looks like yes is the answer to the above question.
However, there’s little arguing with the fact that, when he has played this campaign, Torreira hasn’t look like the same player as he did last time out. The tenacity is still there, as Keown says, but the tangible production is not what it was this time last year.
The statistics certainly support that statement. As per WhoScored.com, the youngster is averaging just one tackle, 0.4 interceptions and 0.6 clearances and 0.1 blocks per game in the Premier League.
Furthermore, he is producing only 0.4 key passes an outing, and so he’s not performing as well at either end of the pitch. However, if Xhaka is going to be exiled, then Torreira is the obvious one to replace him in the team.