Arteta told ‘flimsy and flaky’ player is Arsenal’s weak link but can learn from Man City star

Jason Soutar
Arsenal left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko is "a bit flimsy and flaky", according to Andy Townsend
Oleksandr Zinchenko is "a bit flimsy and flaky", according to Andy Townsend

Andy Townsend has singled Oleksandr Zinchenko out as a weak link for Arsenal ahead of their Champions League clash against Bayern Munich.

The Gunners host the German champions on Tuesday evening and are boosted by the fact there will be no away fans in the Emirates.

Arsenal: Zinchenko is a ‘flimsy and flaky’ player

Zinchenko’s place in the team remains up in the air for such a big match with Jakub Kiwior impressing in left-back while the Ukrainian was out injured.

Takehiro Tomiyasu is another option in that position and like Zinchenko, has struggled to stay fit during his time in north London.

The former Manchester City defender joined Arsenal for £30million in July 2022 and has made 64 appearances under Mikel Arteta.

Excellent on the ball, the 27-year-old is a vitally important player in the Gunners’ build-up play but he has often been exposed defensively.

When Arteta signed him from City, he knew that defending was not his strong point, and Kiwior and Tomiyasu’s form has given him some much-needed depth in that position, while summer signing Jurrien Timber can also play there.

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It will be interesting to see if Arteta goes with Zinchenko against Bayern after starting him in Arsenal’s last two Premier League matches.

Playing Jorginho and Declan Rice in midfield should give the Gunners some extra defensive stability, so it could be a good move to start Zinchenko, but Townsend thinks the Ukrainian can leave Arteta’s side “vulnerable”, comparing him to his former City team-mate Kyle Walker, who is the best at ‘recovering’.

“The only area for Arsenal, Zinchenko is a great footballer, he is a little bit flimsy and flaky, and he can’t recover,” Townsend told talkSPORT.

“When Kyle Walker, if he ever makes a mistake, he can recover. Zinchenko, if he gets caught, he is a bit vulnerable there, so they have got Tomiyasu now, they have got Kiwior who has stepped in and has done really well.”

Tuchel wants to cause Arsenal ‘pain’

Arsenal will be boosted by Bayern’s poor form domestically this season but, apologies for the cliche, it feels like form goes out of the window in these matches.

Bayern head coach Thomas Tuchel – who is stepping down at the end of the season – sent a message to Arsenal in his pre-match press conference, saying he wants to cause the Gunners “pain”.

“Arsenal are currently the best team in the Premier League and that is deserved, all the data shows that,” Tuchel said on Monday.

“They are in great form and have been at the highest level for the last two seasons so it’s a massive test for us.

“It’s the second year for them where they’re playing at this really high level, they have so much energy on the pitch and they can keep it for a long time.

“We know about our own strengths and how we want to cause them pain. We know the Champions League is a competition where we have more experience over the last few years. We want to use it to our advantage.”

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