Lucas Torreira has probably never had his name sung so loud, or for so long. If ever the little Uruguay ace was in doubt over whether he has been accepted at Arsenal, yesterday’s adulation was a resounding affirmation.
Not only did the South American midfielder score in the 4-2 Premier League win over Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates, he collected the man-of-the-match award for the third time in the Gunners’ past four top flight outings.
But more than that; he witnessed first-hand just how important the North London derby is to supporters of the club. All season, Arsenal fans have been told by the mainstream media that Spurs, who don’t have a ground by the way, have orchestrated a so-called power shift in the northern part of the capital. Some power shift, eh?
“North London is red,” was the over-reaching message come the final whistle on Sunday.
It started well for Arsenal when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang kept his nerve from the penalty spot to make it 1-0 when Jan Vertonghen handled inside the area.
But the visitors hit back with goal from Eric Dier and a penalty scored by Harry Kane. Rob Holding’s innocent looking challenge on Heung Min Son was deemed to be worthy of a spot-kick by ref Mike Dean. So, 2-1 into the break but the action was far from over.
Arsenal coach Emery took off Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan at half-time and brought on midfielder Aaron Ramsey and striker Alex Lacazette — and it is fair to say the changes worked in the home side’s favour!
Arsenal showed more fight and spirit than before the break and the goals followed, with Aubameyang grabbing his ninth league strike of the season on 56 minutes to level things up. Then, with 15 minutes remaining, Lacazette made it 3-2 before Torreira hit home for 4-2 a minute later.
Torreira was delighted the win. He said:
“It’s my first derby for Arsenal and it’s an incredible game. During the week, the fans really showed me how important this game is and it was for us as well.
“It was great that we were able to win to continue our progress in the Premier League, which is one of our objectives. Tottenham are a good side and they made it hard for us to find space at times, but we showed our spirit and our soul during the game. We’re really pleased and so I am, both with the goal and the win.
“I think it was the goal that put the end to the game, if you like. It was a reward for all the hard work that I’ve been putting in since the very first moment that I joined Arsenal.
“I’ve been working hard to adapt to what is a very intense league. It’s not been a long time, of course, but I think I have adapted. I just want to say thank you to my team-mates, the staff and everyone at the club.”
It was a resounding win and one with which Emery should be very proud. While Mauricio Pochettino has been heralded as the greatest thing since sliced bread, Emery has been quietly going about his business since his arrival in the summer to replace Arsene Wenger, the manager at the club for the previous 22 years.
And he is doing very well, is the Spanish coach — the win over the Lillywhites was the 19th game on the bounce that his side has managed to avoid defeat. Another test comes on Wednesday night at Old Trafford when the Gunners take on Manchester United. Will it be 20 in a row? Well, you wouldn’t bet against it.