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.