Arsenal tactics – Should Tierney be defending and Zinchenko used further forward?

Bringing in Zinchenko has proven to be a masterful piece of business from Arteta and Edu. But whilst I am an admirer of what he brings to the team I am not blind to his limitations. I cannot imagine too many Arsenal fans arguing with the notion that Kieran Tierney is a better defender.

For all Zinchenko’s positives, he does get caught out when at the back, either from lack of pace or questionable decision making. Additionally to this, Zinchenko drifts into his preferred position alongside Partey.

This may well be an instruction from Arteta, but it certainly suits his game. He looks more comfortable there and pulls the strings. The problem with him drifting into that position is that it leaves Martinelli completely exposed out on the flank. I think this can explain his drop-off in goal involvements. Take Jesus out of the team and he is left high and dry.
I think using Zinchenko as an alternative to Xhaka could get the best out of our squad. Tomiyasu has looked good at left-back when he has played there and he is usually steady when it comes to defending. It would free Martinelli up to stay further up the pitch and not have to track back so far.
By making this little change suddenly our squad is transformed. Zinchenko gets to play a position he prefers and is better at, Xhaka has excellent cover, Martinelli gets support going forward, Tomiyasu gets to play more, etc.,
Hey, even Nuno Tavares could get another look in. No doubt he has a lot to offer in an attacking sense and if Zinchenko were playing inside he could cover the left-back position when Tierney/Tomi/Nuno go forward.
This squad has so much potential. Arteta and Edu have assembled a good bunch of versatile promising players that have a shot at winning the league for Arsenal for the first time in 20 years.
And they are only just getting started…
Ben Dungate

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Tags Oleksandr Zinchenko


  1. I’d agree with that. .When Tierney gets a good run of games he’s brilliant (no injuries!). Zinchenko in the middle is outstanding. Hard to leave out Xhaka though as he’s been incredible.

  2. Zinchenko plays in the perfect position. Both Arteta and Pep have seen how that method gives more possession and more control…..and makes us more dangerous. Zinchenko plays intelligent and articulate football compared to Tierney. Why deliberately make a step backwards. If Tierney stays, he is a superb player, who next season could get lots of games considering we could have up to 60 games to play. Why rock the boat?

  3. Martinelli drop in form has nothing to do with zinchenko, he will soon pick up again, the good thing is we now have a good player in trosard to help out. Have said it before and I’ll say it again, Saka is our best winger by far, I can’t remember a match that Saka has been totally off, the boy is a wonder.
    Any lineup that doesn’t include zinchenko is a bad formation

    1. Yeah, martinelli was playing well before the world cup with Zinchenko starting most games – so why would it suddenly be a problem more?
      It’s going to be simple fatigue (mental as well as physical) and/or differences in how we play due to Jesus’ injury

    2. Multiple games actually and we on the forums put fatigue as the reason behind it… Sometimes its too easy to forget

  4. We have, in KT, one of the best LB’s in the PL and his importance to the squad is immeasurable.

    I said earlier though, when we look at our defensive record this season, why would MA change it?

    We have many games coming up and KT will be used, of that I am certain.

    MA is constructing a squad that is strong in every department and, to date, the players are more than happy to be part of it, including KT.

    1. I never realised Zinchenko was as good as he was yesterday. Yes he gets caught out of position and yes he isn’t the best defender but he is better technically than i ever saw before in him.

    2. @Ken1945 – Nice saying. No need to change a success recipe. Better and stronger together 🔴⚪️

  5. NOO. Poor observation. Xhaka and and Gabi- defender covers for Zinc. This has made the team so fluid and hard to mark. How are you even linking Martys poor form with Gaby de Jesus absence?
    See 1st 10 minutes yesterday and how Marty was poor in passing and giving away the ball.
    may be he needs a rest and come on as a sub to re-ignite his mojo.

  6. You people and your nonsense tactics!
    You sha want to scatter everything😂…
    Just leave that for Arteta to decide, ok??✅

  7. Keep the same in regards to Zinc, KT. Trosard looked great in that short appearance he played, so can stand in for Martinelli. Did anyone think as I did that once Fred came on for their winger (can’t think of he’s name) that we would be even more dominant which proved that utd was settling for a point…

  8. In the Europa Cup games, I should imagine Arteta will rest a number of players including Partey, Xaka and Martinelli in which case we may well see Zinchenko in the left central midfield area where he performs so well for Ukraine.In tandem with Tierney and ESR the trio would form a very formidable left flank which might even be more effective than the current set up.I have excluded Trossard from my thoughts as he has the versatility to step in for EN who cannot play in every match.In terms of ball skills, composure and football intelligence Zinchenko is up there with high quality exponents and imo, his performance against Man Utd was his best in an Arsenal shirt.What an excellent signing he is proving to be.

  9. I would not change anything right now but if Partey picked up an injury then Zinchenko would be the best option to replace him.

    He could replace Xhaka too, although Smith Rowe may be another option.

    I would play a different full backs on Friday, Tomi and Tierney are both fantastic defenders and need games. Zincheko could be given a run out in midfield either starting or from the bench.

    We need to rotate a little and if it does not work going out the FA cup is not a disaster.

  10. I think Martinelli will come good again! Come to think of it, we’ve been through 4 of the toughest fixtures anyone could ask for. Brighton, Newcastle, Spurs and Manu. These teams share some of the best defending credentials in the league. Martinelli’s inadequacies have been due to being double teamed. I saw that against Newcastle, Spurs and yesterday against Manu. They couldn’t just let the lad be. To an extent, it worked in favour of Arsenal, created spaces for Zinchenko to run into and cause havoc. Not all teams will deploy this tactic. Accordingly, I expect Martinelli to come good. There is no need to rock the boat. Whichever way teams try to shackle him out, it opens up spaces which Zinchenko can run into to create goals. Win win for me.

  11. That tactical overlapping is very good for us.
    The board should work with haste to bring a powerful player to help Martinelli.

  12. If it isn’t broken,why fix it ? Goes the famous saying. Zinchenko plays the way he plays and we still get the results. Having one of the best defensive record in the league is a testament to that. I don’t think Martinelli’s drop in form has anything to do with Zinchenko playing centrally. Earlier in the season,Zinchenko played the same way and Martinelli performed just fine. The could be two possible explanations for Martinelli’s struggles. The first is fatigue,because of the many matches he has played since there was no back up for him until now. The second could be that the lack of playing time at the world cup affected his rhythm – in the way Saliba was not his usual self after the world cup.

    The whole idea of Zinchenko playing the way he plays is to have numerical advantage in midfield. Essentially the opposition will be dealing with four midfield players – something that caused trouble for Man U midfielders and defenders. If you move Zinchenko to midfield and have Tierney at LB then you’re back to three midfielders since Tierney just doesn’t have the ability to dominate the midfield like Ziny.

    Finally it is not a good idea because then you’ll be risking our only left backs and we know they both don’t have the best record in terms of injuries. What happens when they both play and get injuries? Who will replace them when they need a rest? Sure Tomi can do a job but his injury record is not splendid either. Simply put,it is a terrible idea tactically and in terms of injury/fatigue. We can fit all our favourite players on the pitch.

  13. The old saying is”If it aint broke , don’t fix it”! But that is a hackneyed cliche and only true at times.

    At other times it is an unhelpful saying that dissuades folk from making a change for the better. I take Bens point, to an extent, in his piece . However, we can only field eleven players and the truth is that Zincheno is actually a midfielder and a damned good done too. But he plays, nominally at LB but does not stay there, nor is he an effective left back, when compared to Tierney or Tomiyasu.

    SO, the problem ,IF Tierney is also chosen, is who else makes way.

    Though I can scarcely believe I am saying this , after all my years of wanting Xhaka sold, he has become indispensable and so while all remain fit and non fatigued (which will not happen for long ahead , for sure) we must trust our esteemed manager to do as he sees fit.

    There will certainly be occasions when Tierney is involved and unless and until any of us feels better placed to run Arsenal than MA( God forbid),I suggest we all pipe down and leave the decision making to “the rookie who was only Peps assistant”.

    Not my phrase BTW, but one used by a certain regular on here as recently as last summer. Good grief!!

  14. Zivchenko is already doing a lot of the work Xhaka should be doing but having said that Xhaka’s work in the front third although not always sharp and efficient is providing an important link to more dangerous players. There, I never thought I would say that.

  15. It’s just pure ignorance isn’t it? The why of Zinchenko playing at LB instead of better defenders. If anyone wants to know why Zinchenko plays at inverted LB, then the Man Utd game should have showed it. Zinchenko’s tactical intelligence and movement allows Xhaka to bombard forward to overwhelm and confuse opponents on the left side as Martinelli pulls away the RB. Arsenal’s first goal was purely from this construct. Zinny then went on to dominate the midfield with Thomas Partey while Xhaka and Odegaard float around the half space. Trossard came in and Zinchenko went conventional and help to create the third goal.

  16. Have we all forgotten about Smith Rowe ??? He had scored more goals than any other player before his injury. I expect him to come back strongly in the second half of the season. He is also a better defender than Martinelli

  17. I see people taking cheap shots at Oleksandar Zinchenko based on his position. HE IS A CENTRAL MIDFIELDER! Pep Guardiola converted him to an inverted left back, while Mikel Arteta has pushed him to the next level. Obviously he will be caught out now and again, that is why he works in tandem with Gabriel Magalhaes and Granit Xhaka.

    Can anyone really deny now that he may actually be our most important player, based on everything he does on and off the pitch? No Arsenal player has gotten a chant/song so quickly into their tenure as a player, for one thing. He is so underrated, but the Man Utd game has opened so many eyes. Check out his heat map again. he practically played in at least five positions on Sunday at times!

    Mikel Arteta is truly a genius for bringing him [and Gabriel Jesus] to the club while the club is not in the Champions League.

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