New Arsenal boss signed both Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi in this summer’s transfer window, as he looked to strengthen his side ahead of his first season in charge.
Torreira was signed from Sampdoria for £22million and completed his move after representing Uruguay at the World Cup. Guendouzi, on the other hand, joined for just £6million from Ligue 2 outfit FC Lorient.
Many expected to see Torreira line up alongside either Granit Xhaka or Aaron Ramsey in the centre of the park for the Gunners this season, while Guendouzi, it seems, was supposed to continue with his development in the Under-21 squad.
But this hasn’t been the case at all. Instead, the 19-year-old has started both Arsenal’s opening fixtures, while 22-year-old Torreira has watched the action from the bench before getting brief run-outs in both games.
So why have the pair apparently switched places? We take a look here.
It seems to be the general consensus that Torreira was signed to sure up the middle of the park for the Gunners.
In recent years Arsenal have lacked in this position, and have never really signed that new Patrick Vieira character – the one they’ve always needed.
Torreira is known for kicking away at ankles, breaking up play, and, crucially, winning the ball back.
Last season he averaged 2.8 tackles per game, two interceptions and 1.3 fouls for Sampdoria, while the World Cup showed that he is robust and enjoys mixing it physically – he doesn’t just do it because he needs to, but actively looks as though he enjoys it.
This season he’s yet to reach full fitness, presumably because of his work at the World Cup and has appeared lethargic on the pitch.
The midfielder was caught in possession just this weekend against Chelsea, despite the fact he should have been fresh and alert after coming on at halftime.
Alexandre Lacazette attempted to find him with a pass, but Torreira wasn’t switched on enough and Eden Hazard intercepted the ball.
Around three passes later the ball was at the feet of Marcos Alonso, and around three seconds after that Petr Cech was picking it out the back of the net.
The goal proved crucial and saw Arsenal trek back to north London without a single point to show for what was – on the whole – a promising performance.
Like Torreira, Guendouzi also enjoys getting stuck in and is doing a great job of battling for possession in the middle of the park.
But – and maybe this is because of his quieter summer, and the fact he is still a teenager – is full of energy and enthusiasm.
Ian Wright recently told BBC 5 Live: “The best thing I’ve seen in the two games vs Manchester City and Chelsea from this youngster is the kind of heart and spirit and drive and somebody who continuously wants the ball.
“He’s driving, he’s upset when things go wrong – I haven’t seen that for ages at Arsenal.”
Martin Keown, meanwhile, told Match of the Day: “Guendouzi, the 19-year-old midfield player, was playing in there [defence] at times.
“I thought he was quite brave. Things weren’t going well for him at times. But he showed a good energy and he showed he had good character that you need at times.”
Both former Arsenal stars focused on the youngster’s work-rate in the middle of the park – his energy, and willingness to put himself about.
Torreira is similarly tenacious, but has clearly not shown Emery the same levels in training as his team-mate, and is, therefore, being overlooked.
Unlike in Italy, where the Uruguayan transferred from, and where you are allowed time on the ball, the Premier League is different.
It requires players to think fast and react quickly to changes in play.
Torreira’s time will no doubt come for Arsenal, once his fitness improves, but for now, at least, Emery is favouring exuberance over experience.