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It’s taken him a few months but Unai Emery looks to have finally settled on Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira as his preferred midfield partnership and seemed to confirm that with his post-Liverpool comments.
Unai Emery has been patient since he arrived, trying a variety of players in different combinations, looking for the one that worked best. After Arsenal’s display against Liverpool, there seems to be no doubt that the best central midfield pairing we have at present is Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira.
After the match on Saturday, the duo was hailed in all quarters.
Xhaka’s new focus, positional awareness, and freedom have all come about thanks to the ‘phenomenal’ Lucas Torreira, whose ‘impact cannot be overstated’ [Daily Telegraph].
“I enjoy the small details,” Emery said when he was asked about the Granit Xhaka challenge that had him cheering as much as Alexandre Lacazette’s goal. “Individual actions, defensively and offensively.
“I think we are getting the balance in intensity,” Emery said. “[Against Liverpool] we need to push a lot and I think when the supporters are enjoying with the players, I think also the players give their all in their performance and their desire.
“It’s very important for our balance that we have two midfielders like Xhaka and Torreira because the balance in midfield is also important for the balance in defence and our balance offensively.”
“Each game we know what we do,” said Xhaka after the match. “We know well the opposition, where they are good and where they are not. He [Emery] is important. He helps us, not only me but all the players, with the small things. The tactical things. You can see that on the pitch.
“A lot of small things have changed,” added Xhaka. “We have great character. We knew we would not lose this game because we were so good and showed that character again.
“Every game is better and better. He [Torreira] is so important. He knows when to go and when to stay. He brings good balance between offence and defence.
“If you see this game, you can see we are ready for the top four.”