Unai Emery insists that Lucas Torreira is a very important member of his squad and stressed that the Uruguayan doesn’t always need to anchor Arsenal’s midfield to be useful.
Eyebrows have been raised at the fact the Uruguayan has only started twice in the Premier League this season with Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka seemingly the Spaniard’s first choice midfield duo.
Torreira has made five further appearances off the bench in the league, often in a more advanced position; a decision that Emery says he’s made in consultation with the 23-year-old.
“He is playing,” Emery said of Torreira ahead of Crystal Palace’s visit to the Emirates.
“I think he is very important for us. We are sharing and changing some matches with the midfielders like Guendouzi.
“I am very happy with him and we need him. Then we use different structures in different matches and he has confidence. I was speaking with him about his best position to help us in our shape.
“It depends on the shape. Last season his best position was playing as a deep midfield two alongside Xhaka or Matteo.
“This year we are playing also sometimes with just one and he can achieve with his quality to get to the box and get closer to score. He is very intelligent about getting space around the box and taking chances.
“Then also, when we prepare the team to do high pressing, for us he is very important because he is very intelligent tactically, but he can play in the two positions. [Either as] one of the two midfielders [or] he can play higher for the pressing and to get into the box.
“Sometimes we also use him as a one-man in midfield doing the covering for the two other players ahead.”
Given that this time last year, Torreira was earning plaudits for the way he was marshalling the midfield from a deep position – a role he was signed to do – it seems a little strange that we’re now trying to use him in a more advanced position where he’s deemed a goal threat. All the more so, when you consider we have Joe Willock, Dani Ceballos and the (purposefully ignored) Mesut Ozil within our ranks.