Unai Emery says he will not tell Lucas Torreira to go easy on Brighton as he walks a disciplinary tightrope ahead of Arsenal’s visit to Liverpool.
Torreira has four Premier League bookings to his name this season. the midfielder to pick up a fifth caution against Brighton on Boxing Day, he would be unavailable for Emery’s squad that travel to Anfield three days later for what is certain to be a stern examination of Arsenal’s top four ambitions.
The 22-year-old certainly seemed to be doing his best to pick up that fifth yellow as a substitute against Burnley on Saturday, steaming into a series of full-blooded tackles in a match that suited his combative style of play. Emery will not attempt to reign that in if it is how Torreira believes he can make the greatest impact against Brighton.
“In my career I never did this decision,” Emery said. “We are going to play the next match in Brighton and we are going to play full, not conceding options, taking more precautions with the players.
“It’s the same three points in Brighton as in Liverpool. We’re going to play first in Brighton, it’s a tough, difficult match where we need every player with 100 per cent focus to do all on the pitch to win.
“Could I tell him to ease off? I don’t know but I don’t want him to think about the possibility of a yellow card.”
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Torreira is not the only Arsenal midfielder on the brink of a one-match ban: Matteo Guendouzi was booked for the fourth time this season in the feisty 3-1 win over Burnley.
That was the 19-year-old’s 15th Premier League appearance of a season which began with him excelling even in defeat to Manchester City and has seen him establish himself as the latest youngster to take Arsenal by storm.
“I am very happy with Matteo, he’s improving a lot and helping us,” said his head coach. “He gives us a lot of moments in the team with combination and quality, with the possibility to play with our style.
“He needs to improve more, to continue his progress with us. He’s very young.
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“Yesterday I spoke with [Laurent] Koscielny about the possibility of playing on Saturday, he said to me no and that’s he very tired after two matches in a week. I decided not to put him in the group. He said to me: ‘I am not Matteo. Matteo is 19 and I am 33 years old. There’s a difference.’”
For Emery a hectic festive calendar that sees his side play three league games in seven days represents quite the change from his experiences managing in Spain, Russia and France, where winter breaks come as standard.
Still the Spaniard is looking on the bright side of a Christmas where there will be less mulled wine and more mulling plans for Brighton and Liverpool.
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He told Standard Sport: “Usually we want the holidays! The holidays are perfect for us every time. But I’m going to enjoy, with you, working and playing the matches.
“It’s very important for the supporters, playing at this moment. In Brighton it’s perfect, in Liverpool it’s perfect, playing here on January 1 is perfect. We are going to enjoy it… only if we win.”