Ian Wright claims that Zinchenko is missing Granit Xhaka this season

Ian Wright, the Arsenal legend, claims that Granit Xhaka’s departure in the summer left a gap on the Gunners’ left side of midfield, which is the cause of Oleksander Zinchenko’s difficulties.

Last season, Oleksander Zinchenko and Granit Xhaka were, for sure, two of Arsenal’s most significant players. The way Xhaka, Zinchenko, and Martinelli linked up on the left was brilliant, and the three tormented Arsenal’s opponents on a good day.

However, with Xhaka’s departure in the summer, that on-field link was disrupted, and it hasn’t helped that Havertz hasn’t been at his best and Arteta has changed who plays the left midfield role (Declan Rice, Fabio Vieira, and even Emile Smith-Rowe have done so).

The Ukrainian international was subbed off at halftime in the 2-2 draw in the London derby last Saturday after struggling due to Chelsea targeting him as the Arsenal defense’s weak link. Takehiro Tomiyasu replaced him and played well. Some believe the Japanese international is gradually establishing himself as a reliable left-back.

Concerning Zinchenko’s inability to be as influential as he was last season, Wright argues that it could be due to Xhaka’s departure, saying on Wrighty’s podcast, “Again, Zinchenko without Xhaka and what Xhaka done for us, it’s not the same role. He doesn’t seem to be able to do it without the way Xhaka was playing and giving him that license.”

I think we must forget about Xhaka now that he has left. And Arteta must decide who will play the left midfield role once and for all. Who knows? If he gets his midfield right, Zinchenko could be back to his best. And there’s no denying that when Zinchenko is at his best, Arsenal becomes extremely threatening.

Darren N


  1. Exactly what I said in another thread a few days ago.
    Last season when Zinc would move into central positions, Xhaka was quite aware of this and covered him on the left. Now its all blame on Zinc, other players around him are not giving him the license to drift in. He is at best an inverted LB and not a full left back.

  2. To answer the headline, I think we all are, but I can’t say for everyone, but for me Xhaka is greatly missed.

  3. Arteta, every player and fan ( arguably) misses Xhaka… His exit has left the team stranded…..

    Since Arteta is expert at reinventing players it might not be a bad idea to try Zinchenko in Xhaka’s position when Timber returns to full fitness.
    Bearing in mind he was originally a 10 and plays in Midfield for Ukraine, you never know ……

  4. It’s possible, but rice has stood out for us in every game he’s played, and many (most?) of those have been in the position xhaka played in last season.
    It’s clear to me that rice is a better overall player than xhaka, but it’s possible that xhaka’s qualities suited the team better.
    Could also be that teams have come up with better ways to target zinchenko and our system in general – very hard to tell.

  5. Ian Wright is off the mark. Zinchenko played lots of games with Partey in DM and gave us some of the best performances since arriving. This was after a Xhaka left the team. Without a destroyer/intercepter/defender in front of him, Zinchenko gets exposed and doesn’t do well.
    So what’s it going to be, bench or sell Zinchenko all because we want to play the useless, octogenarian Jorghino who sweet talks his way into the team rather than play his soccer in the pitch?

  6. Very true, we need to prioritize bringing Douglas Costa to stabilize the midfield and Ivan toney to stabilize the forward line. We will miss much Xhaka indeed.

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