Torreira to the rescue with flying finish to ensure Arsenal’s week ends on a high
Flat on his back and with his legs in the air, Lucas Torreira lay on the turf as the cramp crept up his legs in the final few moments of this most bruising of Premier League encounters. As he rocked back on the ground, waiting for a team-mate to stretch away the pain, he was suddenly swarmed by a huddle of red-and-white shirts, all offering a hand of support.
It was only a brief moment, but it encapsulated this gritty, satisfying win. And if anyone deserved the urgent support of his team-mates, it was Torreira, the player who once again did more than anyone to drag Unai Emery’s side to victory.
It has not taken very long for the Uruguayan to become the new cult hero of the Arsenal supporters, who have been craving a midfielder of his tenacity for so many years. Torreira has been endlessly combative since his arrival, but he is also starting to add attacking class to his game.
His late winner here, against an impressively spirited and organised Huddersfield Town, was his second goal in three matches. “In attacking and defensive moments he is very fast in his mind and his feet,” said Emery. “He has the quality and hunger we need.”
Torreira’s late intervention provided a stirring end to an encouraging but draining week for Arsenal, who refused to be distracted by the “hippy crack” headlines in the week and are now unbeaten in 21 games.
Huddersfield’s physical approach proved tough for the home side to break down. “We limited Arsenal and kept them away from our goal,” said David Wagner, their manager. “There were very rare shots on target. This is enough, if you are Huddersfield, to deserve a point.”
Arsenal struggled in attack throughout, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both missing first-half chances. Lacazette did have the ball in the net before the break, but he was ruled offside despite Huddersfield defender Mathias Jorgensen playing him through on goal.
The visitors had their own chance, too, with Alex Pritchard spooning his shot over before the break. It clearly troubled Emery, who sprung a double substitution at half-time. Lacazette and Stephan Lichtsteiner departed, with Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan asked to provide attacking creativity in their place. The Arsenal head coach was then forced to replace the injured Shkodran Mustafi, who limped off with a hamstring injury. The German will be unavailable against Southampton next week, as will centre-back Sokratis, who is suspended after picking up a booking.
With Rob Holding out until the end of the season, the defensive concerns are piling up at a worrying rate. As long as there is Torreira, though, Arsenal will always have bite and fight. With just seven minutes remaining, he soared through the air to acrobatically volley Aubameyang’s cross down into the net and bring a memorable end to a memorable week.
Worth the wait: Lucas Torreira’s acrobatic goal secures victory for Arsenal yesterday