Lucas Torreira has insisted he is willing to fight for his place in Arsenal‘s starting side after losing it to Joe Willock and Dani Ceballos.
The Uruguayan has made just two Premier League starts this season with a total of 202 minutes on the pitch and 518 minutes on the sideline – a worrying statistic for the 23-year-old.
Arsenal fans have been bewildered at times with Unai Emery’s choice to play him as an attacking midfielder during his few, precious minutes of action so far.
Lucas Torriera (right) has disappeared into the background in Unai Emery’s side
Torreira is willing to fight for his place at Arsenal and has featured mainly in cup competitions
When asked on his thoughts about the season, Torreira said: ‘I don’t know whether I’d say it’s frustrating.
‘All players want to play, they obviously want to be in the starting XI – that’s completely normal. But that’s not something that depends on me.
‘It’s down to the coach to make those decisions and really I have to respect that. Right now it’s about not giving up.
Lucas Torreira Arsenal stats (all competitions)
Appearances – 60
Goals – 3
Assists – 6
Minutes played – 3,691
‘You have to continue working hard and whether I’m playing in the starting XI or from the bench I want to give my all for the team. That’s the kind of player I am.
‘I like to give 100 per cent for the shirt to help my team-mates and to give the fans something to cheer about.’
His current run of matches is a stark contrast to last season – Emery’s first season in charge – where Torriera made 50 appearances in all competitions, including 34 Premier League matches.
He has stiff competition with newly-appointed captain Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi, Dani Ceballos and Joe Willock all preferred and looking to make their mark at the Emirates.
Emery is under pressure this season to get results after a satisfactory first term in the hot seat
Dani Ceballos has played in every Premier League match so far this season and has two assists
Joe Willock is enjoying his break-out season under Emery with seven league appearances
The Arsenal boss alluded to Torreira’s slightly more advanced role and hinted that he may be getting more game time in the near future.
The Spaniard said: ‘His qualities are that he can give us good pressing, and he can win the ball high up the pitch to give us the possession to score.
‘He did that [in the 3-0 Europa League win at Eintracht Frankfurt]. After, we need someone with the ball and in his position, he can help us with the build-up.’
Arsenal fans have taken to Twitter to vent their frustrations with Torreira’s situation and Unai Emery’s tactics.
One fan tweeted: ‘Any manager that looks at Xhaka and Torreira and thinks Xhaka is a better player to sit in front of the defence is a poor manager to me. Not a single fan, journalist, pundit say it’s the right call. Nonsense.’
Another said: ‘Alright I get that Emery doesn’t like Mesut Ozil but wtf has Lucas Torriera done to him? He was so good last year when used in the right position.’
One account felt the need to repeatedly write the line ‘Torreira is a DM, not a creative midfielder’, in an opinion that is seemingly shared by the masses.