Why shouldn’t Arsenal try Zinchenko as Xhaka’s replacement?

Granit Xhaka is sorely missed in Arsenal’s midfield. Kieran Gibbs is the latest to point this out, as we revealed in a nice piece titled, “Ex-Gunner believes the current Arsenal team needs Xhaka.”

A contentious 1-0 loss to Newcastle on Saturday ended Arsenal’s unbeaten league streak. In that game, it was evident that Arsenal’s offense was again not as fluid as it had been last season, and it appears that this is due to them lacking what Xhaka used to provide them.

At this point, I can’t help but ask: will Arsenal ever be able to “replace Xhaka” with the midfielders they already have, or will they need to bring in another quality midfielder to fill the vacuum Xhaka left?

Anyway, before Arteta asks himself this question with the winter transfer window far away, why doesn’t he contemplate using Oleksander Zinchenko as his left-sided No. 8?

Given how threatening we saw Zinchenko at times when he drifted to midfield to orchestrate an attack, that’s a position where he can thrive. While in midfield, the Ukrainian has an eye for recognizing holes and angles that allow the ball to go up the pitch and unpick opponent defenses.

With Tomiyasu prospering as an inverted left back, Zinchenko being played in the Xhaka role won’t harm Arsenal. With no one capable of filling that role, a single trial of Zinchenko in the role might, going forward, alter the dynamics of Arsenal’s midfield.

Is that not a sensible idea?

Daniel O

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Tags Oleksandr Zinchenko Xhaka


  1. First and foremost I think Zinchenko lack the physicality to be a successful in Xhaka’s position.
    Can he put in the tackles and interceptions?
    Imo he’s easily dispossessed and sometimes makes a lot of misplaced passes.
    These are some of the reasons why he struggles as a left back in the first place.

    But then, I won’t be entirely against an experiment with him in Xhaka’s role against a small team for the sake of it.
    It may turn out well.

    1. Twilight’s depending on the opponent Zinchenko can play very well as an A.M
      In a 4141 formation you don’t need a physical double pivot,just one and the other four should always join in attack. Similarly a in a 433 system he will play so well on top of that diamond.
      I mean I would even be more glad to see him replace Odegaard at the 70th minute as we keep the tempo,than see him always out muscled in our defence.
      He does it for Ukraine he can do it for us.

    2. Yea, there is no harm in trying Zichenko there. He plays in that capacity for his national team Ukrain and they have been doing fine in Euro qualifier. Besides Viera, and Trossard have been tried there. Zichenko is one of the most technical and creative midfielder we have. His only downside unlike Xhaka would be he can’t win aerial duells.. And really some of our players should hit the gym to play effectively in physical Epl.

  2. I always favoured him as a replacement for Xhaka and using Tierney in his place. But with Tierney leaving the club we don’t have a left-footed LB which makes it hard for us to play Tomiyasu in this place all the time.

    Instead of Zinchenko, I think playing Rice with Partey/Neilson/Trossard will be a better idea but MA must make sure that the last two are able to try playing alongside Rice and help in the defensive rules which seems to be impossible from here. Hence, the best choices are Partey/Jorginho/ElNeny

      1. that was about the best line in the chat today! Hope you are wrong though…we do play better with him.

  3. The idea is a nice one sometimes football is not all about physical but techinics which i know Zinchenco have he can play there very well he can even be an upgrade to Xhaka he has pace so it’s a very good idea truly Gibbs played under Arsene Wenger that is how Wenger used to get so many players let’s try the experiment a d it will work

    1. Well my friend, physicality also matters in the EPL. It’s one of the reasons why Xhaka himself flourished in that position.
      You don’t want your no 8 to be easily bullied over the ball or been unable to win tackles.
      Fabio Viera is a classic example. A very technical lad but lacks the physicality to stay on his feet and stand his ground against opposing midfielders.
      Some times his lack of physicality completely clouds technicality.

      In any case you the right to your own opinion.

  4. Just wondering if Xaka missing is not being overstated with the way we were so often negative about him.

    I personally miss him in the team though.

  5. Dan Burn got a spine injury and to be sidelined for months. Why? Because they thought it was a boxing match. They reap the fruits of boxing instead of playing footbal

  6. I don’t think Arsenal is winning anything unless they get partey fit or get his replacement.

  7. I dont believe this is an option except against a weak and defensive team. Pep tried it and it did not work!!
    Good passing ability but lacking on defence.

  8. I don’t understand why many people still insist that Zinchenko is not defensive, yet the whole of last season he was playing as a left defender, and we defended many games with him.
    Instead of using Kai as left No.8 why not use Alex who’s had a good partnership with Martinelli and even good at passing in the final third.
    He can be helped by Rice or Tomiyasu/Timber in case of any defensive roles there

  9. This will surely be a viable option for Arteta. .Zinchenko is not a defender and so playing him a little upfront will be a very good idea..He is vey technical and if he make a mistake at least , there will be someone at the back to cover up for him .So Arteta should covert him there asap.

  10. Good idea he is not a,bad player as he got his own availability as crossing n attacking play,he even play on midfield for Ukraine so why not try at Arsenal as tomi n timber xan play in leftback

  11. I always vouched for Zinchenko to be tried in the central midfield. This is the position he plays for Ukraine and he excels in that position.

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