Quite obviously to anybody who has witness his rise to prominence in the last six to eight weeks, it comes as no surprise that Lucas Torreira won the November player of the month award at Arsenal, having picked up man-of-the-match displays in what feels like most of his starts this season at this stage.
Based on the fact that we’ll be at the halfway stage of the month by the time we play Southampton it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see him nab the December accolade too. Providing he stays fit of course.
He’s been nothing short of a revaluation since establishing himself as a regular in the team and when I see his wide array of talents on display I’m minded of something Ben once said to me when talking about the Cazorla/Coquelin axis. We were all waxing lyrical about Santo and Francis and yes at the time it felt like we’d found the perfect blend, but what Ben said was that whilst Santi is a peach of a player, Coquelin probably shouldn’t be anywhere near the first team.
Ben’s argument – rightly so – was that we shouldn’t need one player to be a passer and all of the creativity, whilst another is literally just a wall to stop opponents and break up play, because that side of the game should come with somebody technically good enough to be able to be a good distributor too. That’s what we were missing. We were taking two positions to fill one requirement at that time.
As time went by we obviously saw the technical limitations and if we’re honest that defensive side of the team hasn’t really been replaced because whilst Arsène favoured the technically better passers of the ball, he never looked for that passer-come-destroyer type player. Somebody who is just as good and composed at breaking up play as he is at finding a man in front of him.
In Lucas Torreira it looks like we have that guy. He’s a Swiss Army knife player; capable of winning the ball back, of spotting a pass, of finding a good position in the box, he’s got a decent long range shot on him, he can even do the necessary trademark Uruguayan sh*thousery needed when opponents get a little snippy at us.
He’s a delightful terrier and although he’s only just signed for us if I was at the club I’d be preparing for a nice new long contract next summer because whilst we need a player like that for as long as we can, if we want to ward off the likes of those Spanish teams, then we need to make him bloody expensive to buy.
I know it sounds a little premature to already be talking about other clubs sniffing around him but mark my words it’ll happen sooner than we all think. So let’s hope this new regime are patting him on the back with one hand and handing him a pen with another.
You can tell a player is so valuable when we’re all worried about how the club manages a good tactical yellow card so that he doesn’t miss any crucial games.
He won’t play tomorrow night of course and that means that he’ll be fresh for Southampton away. Which to mean would be prime booking territory because we don’t need a suspension for Brighton or Liverpool away.
But before all of those considerations come into effect there’s the small matter of a meaningless game against Qarabag in which I’m actually going to tomorrow night. I’m taking a load of old schoolmates along to have a grand old time and I’m hoping to see a raft of fresh faced changes in the Arsenal XI. We’ll get an idea on just how many when Unai does his presser and team update today and my hope is that we see an almost completely rotated XI ahead of Sunday’s game. Czech? In you come son. Lichtsteiner? Yep. Medley? You’re in. Pleguezeluoluoloululo? Why not. Mainland-Niles, Willock, Smith-Rowe, Nketiah, Elneny, Gilmour? Aye.
Let’s have a fresh look at a lot of these players and above all, let’s get some young natural centre halves playing a full 90 in prep for any anticipated problems on Sunday. Because let’s be honest, if Koscielny comes in and isn’t fit or breaks down during the game, one of them is going to be called upon.
Of course Emery could call on Koscielny tomorrow night with a view to him not playing on Sunday, but whilst his rehab is important and the intensity of the game will be greater on Sunday, his experience is more important to us domestically than in Europe I think. I hope Emery’s thinking is the same but as one of his many captains I think we’ll get an idea of whether he’s playing or not based on who partners Emery in front of the cameras today. If Koscielny is there then he’s in the squad and I suspect he’ll play tomorrow. If he’s not then he will surely play at the weekend.
So we don’t have long to wait.
It’s always fun to see how the young kids perform against a first XI and so hopefully when we play tomorrow evening we’ll get a similar performance to the one away in Vorskla. Everyone is already happy with the Emery regime and how it’s gone so far and the performance of the kids has certainly helped that.
Let’s just see how many kids Unai will stick out there tomorrow after what he says with his presser.