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Gritty Torreira brings added steel to Arsenal

AFP  |  London 

has been at Arsenal just a matter of months but the already looks like the kind of the club has been missing for years.

The international will make only his seventh start when Wolves visit the on Sunday, yet his importance to Unai Emery's rapidly improving team is clear.

Operating in central midfield, Torreira has offered a combative presence, providing his back four with protection while his use of the ball has been similarly impressive. Other players in Emery's line-up may have provided more spectacular moments during the Gunners' 15-game unbeaten run.

However, it is the contribution of Torreira and Granit Xhaka, transformed from the inconsistent of recent seasons, that have given reason to believe this Arsenal side has the to sustain their early charge.

The pair have instilled a balance in the team that was lacking for long periods during the final years of Arsene Wenger's reign.

Having built his early success in north around a midfield led by Patrick Vieira, Wenger's failure to resolve the apparent frailties of his later sides was at times baffling.

provided admirable service but since the international left for Panathinaikos 10 years ago, few players have shown themselves capable of filling what often appeared to be an obvious gap.

The arrival of Torreira in a USD 35 million deal from Sampdoria this summer, however, appears to have ended the wait.

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Emery eased the 22-year-old into his new life in English football, introducing the from the bench for the first five league games, before deciding Torreira was up to speed.

And his gritty performance in last weekend's 1-1 draw with confirmed he has settled into his new surroundings.

"You have to give credit to him because he's someone who works hard, who wants to work hard and who shows that on the pitch as well," said Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi.

"Against he recovered a lot of balls, and that makes it not only easier for the defenders, but for the whole team.

"I've changed a lot of leagues, a lot of countries myself and I know it's not easy to settle in. I think he's done it brilliantly well." The performance of Emery's team against strengthened the belief that they have a chance of emerging as genuine contenders in the title race.

Arsenal's main priority is to return to after missing out last season and challenging at the top of the table would be an added bonus. Performances have steadily improved and Emery's impact is already being felt.

The next test is to maintain this form and the loss of England forward to a this week will not help.

But Torreira has so far provided Arsenal with qualities they have been lacking and if the continues to perform as he has, the Gunners may have to review their targets as they head into the second half of the season.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, November 10 2018. 11:16 IST