At five foot five Lucas Torriera isn’t a player who will tower above most players on the pitch. But when you think about size is that what matters to the position that you play in? For myself, I see a lot of myself in Torriera when playing at grassroots. For starters I am also the same height as Lucas and also see myself as a central midfielder who will be more committed to defending then attacking (or if you’re a ‘modern fan’ a defensive midfielder). The best thing about being so small is that the opposition don’t take you seriously expecting you to be an easy target to win the ball from. And that their underestimation is the price you’ll pay. Just ask the Whites down the road if they remember that from last season.
But why am I bringing this all up? Is it the fact that some corner of the fan base believe that Torriera isn’t the tall destructive defensive midfielder Viera figure we need? Is it the fact that under the first start of the season Torriera wasn’t playing? Is Unai still a factor or is Mikel still tinkering with the club near enough months after he was appointed and casting a shadow over our own Uruguayan Lion? The truth is, after the way Torriera was ready to quit if he was left out under Emery, the transfer windmill has once again blown into the wind. With only thirty-three appearances this season, scoring twice (both against Liverpool away from home), he might be considered more of an important player than in previous management.
However, with a transfer window on the horizon would the club look to find a replacement but the important question more so in the believe that like George Graham had that a good defensive unit can make or break a team is should Torriera stay or go?
His Premier League stats (from the Premier League website) do tell an interesting story in his fifty-eight appearances he has an estimated forty-one passes per match and his discipline record is an interesting one for a defensive midfielder. With only eleven yellow and one red card to his name. Defensively Torriera has a successful tackle rate of fifty seven percent. And some other interesting defensive stats:
Interceptions 71; clearances 52; headed clearances 21; recoveries 319; duels won 272; duels lost 202 and aerial battles won 31. This is itself and interesting read. It shows how much defensive work Torriera does for the team when he is included in the match-day squad. It might also mean that Torriera isn’t the defensive midfielder, he is in fact the ball winning midfielder of the Arsenal midfield.
In comparison to Xhaka (with more appearances, 121 if you were interested), has a higher passing rate of seventy-five per match. In addition, Xhaka has a worse disciplinary record with thirty-two yellows and two red cards to his name. This seems that the Swiss international is also a defensive midfielder who doesn’t live up to the role. He seems to be more of a player that some would say is called a deep lying playmaker (someone who will look to get the attack moving from either the defensive or middle third of the pitch then the attacking third; if you were interested).
So, is the call for a ‘traditional’ defensive midfielder like Paddy was wrong? Not at all. But during the early 2000’s Gilberto Silva was Arsenal’s primary defensive unit as he allowed Vieira to get forward when opportunity allowed. Although Vieira was the taller player and was more physical you knew it was going to be a tough day at the office when you faced both them in the middle of the park. Is this fear gone now if Torriera and Xhaka are in the central midfield positions? But as time goes on football changes. Instead of what might’ve been a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 has now been replaced with more men in the middle of the park with formations such as 4-2-3-1. The role of defensive midfielders has changed like many other players positions.
The question I asked was should Torriera go? Considering that there are few in the fan base who believe he should. I hope that I have underlined his importance when he is playing, although he is not all together a defensive midfielder that is traditional to some fans, he is still able to do the job. Then the main question is should Arsenal look to buy a real defensive midfielder with the similar likes of N’didi, Kante or others that have been reportedly interested in moving to the Emirates in recent years. That is yet to be seen. But to go back to the original question. for me, Torreira should stay