New Arsenal signing Oleksandr Zinchenko watched his new charges during their 3-1 win over Orlando City recently, after completing a £32 million switch from EPL rivals Manchester City.
The Ukrainian had been linked with a move away from the Etihad for some time, and former City coach Mikel Arteta has moved quickly to bring the versatile Zinchenko to London.
But what should Gunners’ fans expect, and how will Arteta use him? Here’s a breakdown of the Ukrainian’s attributes and likely positions.
Not a Natural Left Back
Zinchenko arrived in Manchester in July 2016, subsequently making 192 career appearances and scoring five goals in total.
During his time at City, the Ukrainian also contributed an impressive 31 assists, including five last season and a crucial pull-back to set up Rodri’s equalising goal in the dramatic final day victory over Aston Villa (which secured a fourth EPL title in five years).
Zinchenko operated mainly from left back during his time at City, but this wasn’t necessarily a natural position for the player.
In fact, he started out life as a number 10 in his country of birth, while also operating as a central midfielder and left winger for both club and Ukraine during the formative stages of his career.
To this end, Zinchencko combines stamina and positional sense with excellent technical ability and an eye for a pass. He’s also comfortable operating in different positions and incredibly tactically aware, making him tailormade for a side that’s precisely coached and reliant on extended ball retention.
How Will Zinchenko Be Used at Arsenal?
According to Arteta, Zinchenko has been purchased precisely because of his versatility and ability to operate in two or three positions.
In this respect, he can offer quality depth in the left back position, while also providing cover in central midfield (where Arsenal remain a little light). He could also provide natural width as a left winger in a classic 4-2-3-1 formation, with rivals like Emile Smith-Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli typically operating as inverted wingers.
Zinchenko may be even deployed as a number 10, while Arteta may choose to play him as left-wing back should he adopt a 3-4-3 formation (with Kieran Tierney dropping to left centre back in the process).
In addition to creating a more flexible and versatile squad, the addition of Zinchenko and former City teammate Gabriel Jesus will enable Arteta to establish an increasingly fluid playing style during matches, in a similar manner to how his former mentor Pep Guardiola operates at the Etihad Stadium.
The Last Word
There’s a clear method of operation in place at the Emirates, with this embodied perfectly by their recruitment strategy during the summer.
Make no mistake; the Gunners are targeting versatile and technically proficient players who can operate in multiple positions, with this crucial to how Arteta wants to operate next season.
So, it’s little wonder that the Gunners are as short as 2/1 to claim a top spot next season, with the Stake Welcome Offer enabling you to capitalise on this and use it to your advantage.
Of course, a title charge may be beyond Arsenal at this stage, but the club is definitely moving in the right direction as the new season approaches.