Arsenal also possesses a player with similar strengths and weaknesses to Liverpool’s star. Oleksandr Zinchenko has been a vital contributor to Arsenal’s successful season. Since his transfer from Manchester City to Emirates last summer, the Ukrainian talent has quickly made an impact on the team’s overall style of play.
With his dribbling ability and composure on the ball, Zinchenko swiftly claimed the starting spot from Kieran Tierney. Although he theoretically plays as a left-back, in reality, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta allows Zinchenko the freedom to roam and participate more in the team’s ball circulation. This significant change compared to previous seasons has allowed the Gunners to deploy a fluid and effective tactical approach, escaping opposition pressing.
Moreover, with the experience of a four-time Premier League winner, the Ukrainian player has ignited the young stars at Arsenal, boosting their confidence in their title aspirations.
In a short period, Zinchenko has become a new leader in the Arsenal dressing room. However, the 1996-born star is not without limitations.
During the crucial stage of the season, when Arsenal truly needs focus and precision to maintain the gap with Manchester City, Zinchenko has become a worrying link in the Gunners’ lineup. Despite possessing good tactical awareness, he appears vulnerable in one-on-one situations. In the clash against Liverpool, he was easily outpaced by Trent Alexander-Arnold, leading to Roberto Firmino’s headed equalizer.
Furthermore, he made errors in the draw against Southampton. Arsenal legend William Gallas commented on Zinchenko after the match: “The defense was really poor. Zinchenko fell asleep for Southampton’s third goal. This is not the first time he has been found lacking concentration. Defending is not his strong suit. One-on-one situations are usually problematic for him.”
Moreover, the former Man City player continued his lackluster performance in the match against Newcastle United. He seemed overwhelmed by the dribbles and runs from Jacob Murphy. As a result, Mikel Arteta had to bring in Kieran Tierney to ensure no further complications arose.
Based on Zinchenko’s displays, fans easily draw comparisons to Alexander-Arnold as both are attacking-minded full-backs who struggle defensively.
While it’s undeniable that the 26-year-old star has contributed since the start of the season, Arsenal cannot afford to make mistakes, and Zinchenko’s inconsistencies contradict this objective.
In the current situation, the Gunners will need to find a way to secure Tierney’s stay. The Scottish player may not possess Zinchenko’s exceptional tactical awareness, but he consistently brings balance to both defensive and attacking aspects of the game.