Ex-Gunner suggests that Zinchenko should move further into midfield

We appreciate Oleksander Zinchenko’s ability to influence our attack; with his outstanding technical ability, he’s able to drift to midfield, overload it, and give our attacking players the opportunity to attack confidently as we attempt to suck the air out of our opponents. Even with his impact, we occasionally find ourselves questioning his defensive play.

Mikel Arteta will occasionally substitute the Ukrainian international for a defensive-minded player to protect us defensively and see out games. But what if Arteta changes his tactical approach towards Zinchenko? What if, instead of substituting him, he uses him as an attacking midfielder in the left-sided No. 8 midfielder role?

Adrian Clarke, our former midfielder, believes we will benefit more if Zinchenko is pushed to see out games in a No. 8 role, implying that he may start as a left back but finish up switching to playing an attacking midfielder role, a move he feels will positively impact our game.

Clarke argues that the 26-year-old could, as a No. 8, occasionally assist us in creating chances, as he does for his national team, Ukraine, with his progressive pass. He explained to the Handbrake Off Podcast, “In those situations where Mikel [Arteta] doesn’t feel that [Oleksandr] Zinchenko is offering enough defensively, rather than taking him off, I’d rather put him into that left-sided number eight role and keep him on.

“He’s got that progressive pass in him; he’s an unlocker of defences.

“Rather than always take him off when he’s struggling defensively, could we then use him just in a further forward position as that left-sided number eight?

“The bottom line is he’s the one that’s more likely to play that killer pass in the final 15, 20 minutes of a game than anyone else.

“It’s just an idea to throw out there.”

Do you think that’s a tactical move Arteta could make in order to continue to make us unpredictable? Could it be a secret weapon for comeback victories?

Daniel O

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Tags Adrian Clarke Zinchenko


  1. Daniel O, I agree with you absolutely.👌
    I have personally thought about this before. Zichenko plays a number 8 role for Ukrain and even scored in one of many matches at last int break.
    Instead of Havertz ,Zichenko can be used while Tomiyasu remain at Left defense. And then Pathey as inverted right back to give a midfield depth. A midfield combination of Pathey, Rice, Odegard and Zichenko would be diffult to break. Pathey and Rice would be our DM while Odegard and Zichenko can be play makers. Zichenko can also help a bit defensively based on his little experience as LB when Arsenal is without the ball.
    Hope the gaffer sees our opinion as wise and considerable.

  2. Agree with you Sylva, Zinchenko in Havertz’s place and Tomiyasu behind him. Don’t agree though with Partey at right back, that experiment at the beginning of the season was a disaster in my opinion. Partey must play though if fit.

  3. Zinchenko might be able to play the left-sided number 8 role well, but there would be no one who can do playmaking as good as him in the inverted-LB position

    Tomiyasu/ Kiwior aren’t as good as Zinchenko in tight spaces as him and Zinchenko in the hybrid position has made us an EPL runner-up. We’ve also got Havertz, Smith-Rowe, Vieira, Trossard and Rice for the left-mezzala role

    1. Gai, like you once said ” we can only use one inverted midfield in a game” if Zichenko plays 8 in the place of Hervatz which he does well for Ukrain Tomiyasu/Kiwior can be behind him. That means Pathey can do the inverted right back role. It helps us to be less vunerable to counter attacks bcos he wouldn’t overlap like White and we can dominate teams better.

  4. I also think it would wise to move Zinchenko further up, in MF, but, he needs to move the ball quicker and not hold up play for no reason. Sometimes he kills off play that could end up in a scoring opportunity.
    There’s really no point playing him in defence as he gets exposed for weak defence and lack of pace. Every single team knows he’s weak in defence and will always allow attackers into his own box.

  5. Definitely think the idea of Tomiyasu at left or right back makes us a weaker all round team. He is a tradesman and won’t let you down as a central defender but that’s about all he has to offer. I agree that Zivchenko is a better midfielder however we have no alternative viable options at left back this season so Arteta should persevere. The other candidates are all lumber some centre halves who would only limit our attacking options and reduce the quality of the team.

  6. Joe. S,,,, you’ve a weak knowledge of football, haven’t you now. Tomiyasu has kept many opposing wide player nullified when he’s been asked to play on the left. He’s probably the best at not allowing attacking wingers cut inside of him whether he’s playing left or right fullback. He’s also done it so well on International duties when called upon on the left or right side of the defence. The fact that Tomiyasu doesn’t have a preference in which foot he uses to kick a ball with makes it better

    1. Yes, my knowledge may not be as good as yours and I also lived in Japan for 17 years and now spend about four months of every year and also watch Japanese football because my family are proud Japanese nationals and I have seen him play for the Japanese team where he is a strong presence, etc etc. I like Tomiyasu as a footballer. He has a big heart and I know that in the central defensive area he does a very good job. But currently the two full back positions are one of Arsenal’s major weaknesses. I don’t see White or Tomiyasu as natural wing backs. The best I can say is that they are very capable stop gaps , until we can come up with better options . I know that Tomiyasu contained Salah against Liverpool last season but that was a one off.where Martinelli tracking back was also a big help. There will also be games when he will be run ragged and in addition he offers nothing going forward . If you want to see Arsenal as a world class team capable of beating anyone on any given day.then we need to see beyond these two.

      1. @joe.S,,,, I do tend to agree with you. Tomiyasu has received undue criticism at being injury prone. His first injury at Arsenal was muscle tightness to the calf muscle. Not serious, but was brought back too soon. Remember the match Arsenal postponed against Tottenham during Lockdown period? Arsenal’s following match was against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup. They didn’t postpone that midweek match, but instead rushed Tomiyasu into it. That’s not the first time that’s been done. Also, Thomas Partey has been a victim of being brought back too soon after injury. I often wonder what goes on at Arsenal regarding the physio and medical staff. The Japanese physio and medical staff at International level are absolutely brilliant. The same with the Women’s International team. The fitness staff are excellent as well. I could not speak more highly of them. I’ll be moving to Japan permanently in late October. Was to be in the New Year, but change of plan. Nearly impossible to be based in Australia. Too many Tournaments and Friendly Internationals for me to be based here. I’ve stood down from the men’s team. Staying with the women’s team. The Japanese Football Association are starting are new restructured junior development system for young boys and girls. I’m looking forward to that. The Japanese are leaving Australia behind. Tonight’s match will be interesting later 1.30 tomorrow morning at the Emirates against Manchester City. If things aren’t going right, let’s hope Arteta sees it early and rectify things. He’s been lacking in that area

  7. Pushing Zinchenko into no8 and Tomiyasu at LB will weaken us. Tomi is not good at progressing and we will be overwhelmed at midfield. Nobody can invert as good as Zinchenko. Not even Partey. Our season is quite good so far with solid backline and solid attack. Our main problem is always the individual errors that got punished. Against Man City, that will be suicidal.

  8. That’s definitely a option play Tommy at left back better defender than Zinchenco who I believe would excel in the old Xhaka role surprised Arteta has not tried it!

  9. The left eight role has defensive duties ideally you want a tall strong fast midfield that combines well with passing and shot creation as well as tackling and intercepting capabilities. The midfield is a battleground

  10. This is long overdue, we all know that Zinchenko will give the team better returns by playing in midfield than in defence.Its a puzzle why up to now we do not have a natural L.B in the team.

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