Pundit labels Zinchenko as ‘very weak’ and suggests Arsenal defender is ‘not a left-back’

Ben Stewart
Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli, right, celebrates with Oleksandr Zinchenko after scoring his side's fourth goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Everton at the Emirates stadium in London, Wednesday, March 1, 2023

England will take on Ukraine in their next Euro qualifier and it has been suggested that Arsenal’s Oleksandr Zinchenko could be a weak link.

Zinchenko himself is highly regarded in Ukraine and has proven to be an excellent signing for Arsenal this season.

The 26-year-old can play at left-back or further forward into midfield, but a former Ukraine international has questioned Zinchenko’s defensive instincts.

Viktor Leonenko, who made 14 appearances for Ukraine, has argued that Everton’s Vitalii Mykolenko is a better defender than the Arsenal man.

“As for Zinchenko, it will be interesting to see what he looks like with England,” Leonenko told FanDay.

“I can say for sure that he is not a left-back. He plays like this at Arsenal because the Gunners have the ball all the time and like to control the game.

“I can’t imagine Zinchenko in another team that doesn’t control the ball. He just won’t be needed. Zinchenko in Arsenal does not play in the place of a clean left-back, but everywhere, with a shift to the support zone.”

Zinchenko has made 27 appearances for Arsenal so far and has predominantly been used as a full-back.

The Gunners also boast the third-best defensive record in the Premier League, having only conceded 26 goals this season.

“Zinchenko is very weak in defence,” Leonenko adds. “He is good at playing along, and then – not always.

“The guy sometimes starts attacking his goal, often cut off, which we see in Arsenal.

“As a defender, Mikolenko is stronger than Zinchenko. Alexander is more of a midfielder. ”

In the Premier League, Zinchenko has made 1.6 tackles and makes 0.8 interceptions per game. However, he is best known for his technical ability on the ball.

When Arteta was asked about Zinchenko’s creative output, he told reporters: “He can and he adapts to certain positions in the field in a great way.

“Sometimes he occupies those spaces, so we will see. Sometimes teams pose you questions and you need Alex in certain positions – he can play wider and higher up the pitch as well, so he is comfortable there. It’s good to have that versatility with players.

“He has the freedom to move in certain spaces like he does and the action where he receives the ball, especially in certain games where we face a certain block.

“But at the same time, we require a certain discipline in positions to do what you have to do.”

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