Would Zinchenko or Tomiyasu be your prefered Arsenal left-back?

Most Premier League fans who have watched Arsenal play for a while will know what Arsenal’s default defensive line is. Most believe Arsenal’s starting defense line is White-Saliba-Gabriel-Zinchenko.

Examining this defensive line, there’s a potential that going forward, it’ll be “tweaked”. Takehiro Tomiyasu may be preferred to start in place of Oleksander Zinchenko.

Arsenal were not at their best in Saturday night’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea. The majority of the Gunners were not at their best, but of the 11, Oleksander Zinchenko struggled most.

It’s as if Chelsea saw him as the weak link in Arsenal’s rock-solid defense. On a good day, Saliba, Gabriel, and White are all great defensive players; they’re natural defenders and can cause trouble for opposing forwards. However, it has been observed that Zinchenko, at left back, is stronger at attacking but not that great at defending. He is effective as an inverted fullback, helping to overload the midfield, but he struggles to track back to his normal leftback position and cover defensively.

While Zinchenko struggles to defend, Takehiro Tomiyasu is gradually demonstrating that he can also play his role (the thought was that only Zinchenko could thrive as an inverted fullback). However, it is becoming clear that Tomiyasu can defend well and play an inverted full-back role. This has been clear from his appearances in the last two Arsenal games against Manchester City and Chelsea, where he was introduced to plug a defensive hole at left back.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Tomiyasu starts Arsenal’s next game, a Champions League clash against Sevilla. Because if Zinchenko starts, he will almost certainly be part of the Spanish side’s game plan (they will try to expose him).

The Ukrainian full back is excellent, but Tomiyasu (if he stays fit) could usurp him in the starting lineup.

Who would you prefer as our starting left-back?

Daniel O


  1. Tomiyasu in my opinion as he is two footed and can hit cross field passes and crosses equally well with either foot. He’s also taller and this height advantage is a plus, as is his speed. Zinchenko can hit the odd killer pass in the vein of Ødegaard but he is not great defensively.

  2. Both can be started
    Tomiyasu as LB and Zinchenko in Midfield
    It should Ødegaard, Zinchenko and Rice as Midfield which will add some depth on bench as well

  3. For me, it would be Tomi anytime of the day. He is great defensively and also contributes to forward movement. Zinchenko has problems defending and drifts into midfield, many times creating a void on the left side. Zinchenko would be a great sub, either in the midfield or as LB.

    1. Tomy will kill our creativity. Can defend but poor in finding a good pass. No good progressive passes, always finding the defenders,Martinelli and co will not get good service from Tomy.
      Having said that I would play them both with Zinch in midfield.

    2. I think that Timiyasu would be preferable as a defender. However, I think, at least so far, that he is not something exceptional. On the left side, we have a problem defensively, which of the two To play. In general, I think that the defensive function of the team is not satisfactory, and this has to do with the coach. In fact, the problem has grown since the midfield is Lazy and insolvent defensively, but above all it looks saturated in the development of phases.. At least offensively we are better, even though Saka is At 50% of the performance it had last year.

  4. Tomiyasu is developing well into a good inverted left foot back. I would prefer him to Zichenko. Coaches and teams are begining to consider our left back as Arsenal weak link, you only need to target Zichenko. With a long ball like Chelsea did often when they played us. A pacey and physical winger like Sterline will give Zichenko problem. But it’s hard to take the ball pass Tomiyasu.The gaffer shouldn’t be sentimental in his selection but maximize the strength of his players. Zichenko will do much better in Xhaka’s role while Rice plays as holding midfielder.

  5. Zinchecko can easily replace xhaka in the midfield he is good tackler and has the eyes for killer passes but not a really good defender.

    He often play in the midfield role for his country.

  6. Zinchenko at left back has run its course. He can play the Xhaka role or cover Odergaard but not left back starter. He has been found out at left back and Arteta doesn’t know how to cover the inverted role, when its exposed, while Zinchenko is there. He is a good player but not at LB.

  7. Zinchenko was instrumental at making us finish in the second place last season

    Tomiyasu is only better defensively for some big games, where we need to nullify the RWs of big teams

    Zinchenko is much better in tight spaces, with his superior close control and through passes

        1. The question is, who is the better defender? I guess by your avoidance of the answer, you probably dont believe Zinchenko is better really.

    1. Last season is not this season

      If he’s better in tight spaces and through passes then start him in the midfield and not as a LB, it’s just logical!

      1. He can see the game better from deep-midfield area. That’s why he isn’t as effective when playing in a more advanced role for Ukraine

        1. That means he is useless. If he cant do defending as defender or attacking as an attacker. Then why Arteta is playing him in starting 11. By playing him team is suffering always defensively. Last season teams found out his tactics late and he started conceding more goals than creating chances.
          As of now he should be just squad player. come in midfield as substitute when needed.
          With few matches Tomi will be way better than him in both aspects.

        2. There was a reason why Man City were willing to sell Zinchenko and Jesus.
          We are now finding out why.
          One can’t defend. The other doesn’t score enough goals

    2. Gai, be real Chelase Sterlin made life difficult for Zichenko on Saturday because he isn’t a defender. Yes he helped us to 2nd last season, but coaches aren’t sleeping any good one would explore Zichenko with pacey physical wingers. If he is good in tight spaces, then he can play Xhaka role like he does very well for his national team. Zichenko is best as a midfielder. Tomiyasu forays upfront helped Havertz to lay pass for Matinelli to score against MCity he is better at LW back.

    3. GAI, Thank you.Correct anaylsis. Tomy is no play maker that he should. One would ask should a defender be a play maker? The answer is yes. In MAs Arsenal even the golie should play ball and find good passes. Zhaka was covering Zinch when he wondered to a great effect into the mid. No one is covering him now, May be Rice and Martineli should be live to this and help Zinch out.

      1. @Zamind, Martineli is live to Zinchenko but with Tomiyasu, Martineli is more confident to run at defenders,
        Obviously we need a trusted LM to balance both LB and LW,

        IMO, Tomiyasu is better, he’s not as technical as Zinchenko but he’s got some technicality, he’ll also reduce Rice’s workload and tighten our midfield,
        Zinchenko should be an option for LM as well as Trossard for AM.
        Trossard and Tomiyasu can play and shoot with both feet well.

    4. Arteta did a Master-class last season against Liverpool at home when he unexpectedly used Tomiyasu in left back instead of Zinchenko. That was pure master class. However, since then we’ve seen nothing of such.
      We’ve played team with dangerous right wingers after wards and Arteta hasn’t considered starting Tomiyasu in the left back position.
      There’s no need to mince words Tomi is way ahead of Zinny defensively and infact, so far this season the offensive aspect of his game has improve immensely.
      So, if it were left to me, I think zinny is set to spend more time on the bench, most especially in big games.

    5. They Arsenal way rn Zinchenko is dey best fit….

      Against Chelsea Zinchenko was exposed due Jorginho inability to control the midfield, he was always in the middle helping Jorginho out… Not surprised how quickly fans turn against their players.

      Get on with it, Arsenal is a one of the top 3 teams in England, we need to feared not us playing defensively and winning poorly with 1-0 scoreline…. You fans will still be out here wanting Artetas head for playing boring football… Do your M.A we behind you

  8. Zinchenko has always been a defensive liability, Pep knew it, but had better midfielders than Zinchenko.

    I hope Arteta accepts this also, and replaces him with Tomiyasu.

    We are clearly better defensively with Tomiyasu at LB, but we are learning he is also doing well offensively in the inverted role.

    Let’s see if “competition” and “ruthlessness” is real or just buzz words only applicable to certain players and positions.

    Hopefully questions will also be raised about Jesus and Odegaard walking into the starting lineup as well.

    Those 2 go missing in big games too often, can’t seem to rely on them to be impactful and game changers.

    1. Jesus is striker this season. How many goals has he scored? Or mor importantly, How many games has he not scored?

    2. Durand,
      I diagree with you. Zinch makes arsenal flow and retain possesion. There were games last season when Zinch was injured that we were running around like headless chicken because of lack of creativity.

      Ode works so hard for the team, The only way for the opposition to loose possesion(turn arounds ala Rugby) is to put them under pressure something GJ and Nketia used to do but they seem to have left it to Ode alone. Pressure makes the opposing defenders and their golie hull the ball up where we take back possesion.The boy Ode gets worn out chasing defenders and even the opposition golie while others just walk around.

      1. I understand your point about Odegaard getting tired from all the pressing, but he needs to be more impactful and assertive in big games like last match.

        I disagree about Zinchenko, he is a huge liability defensively. He doesn’t help Martinelli when he is double teamed, doesn’t assist, and doesn’t score; and with Rice in midfield (also add Partey) it ticks well and moves the ball around.

        Tomiyasu is an upgrade defensively, and he can move the ball around like Zinchenko. Let Tomiyasu get a few starts, and watch us improve as a whole, especially defensively.

  9. Timber would have been Zinchenko’s replacement. And our defense would have been so solid.
    I wish him a fast recovery.

    1. He was bought as a RB, he was Whites replacement, not Zinchenko. He is deemed strong with his left foot but he is a Right sided defender.

  10. Neither of the two is perfect for this role, the Ukrainian did took us mightily close playing there, but that should afforded us ample time in finding the perfect solution.

    But the gaffer must at times think out of the box, the Ukrainian up against a tricky and experience Sterling or Marhez will not only expose his limitations but asking for out right trouble.

  11. If I was a right winger in the EPL, I would welcome the opportunity to be faced by Zinchenko rather than Tomi or indeed Kwior.

    1. Grandad, in reality, the winger in that area usually faces Gabriel most times; sometimes Rice and sometimes Zinchenko/Tomiyasu. The left back position is situational/rotational based on how Arteta sets up his team tactically. It didn’t surprise me that Pep Guardiola moved Doku to the White side. It is also worth noting that most of the goals we’ve conceded this season have come from the right rather than left- if our left was as bad as people are saying, surely that wouldn’t be the case.

  12. Could be that zinchenko is better for some games, Tomi for others. It could also be that zinchenko has been found out and he’s going to become a liability at LB going forwards as teams understand our tactics and will find ways to target him – in which case he either evolves as a LB or moves into the mix at cm.
    He’s a talented player and definitely someone who can add a lot of value to the squad, but i think arteta needs to start thinking of him differently now. Not an automatic starter. Maybe he was already going that way with the signing of timber?

    1. Also think that might have been the reason for trying partey at RB. I think arteta understands he can’t keep playing the same way over and over because teams will figure out how to beat us, and that will be it.

    2. You make good points, but an inverted left back still needs to be able to defend when Cale’s upon. Zinchenko plays the offensive role very well but he gets turned over too often for me and he lacks defensive guile. Of course it’s different tactics depending on the opposition, but I always feel we are vulnerable defensively when he plays.

      1. I agree and understand but sometimes it’s more dangerous to play a player who’s weaker offensively even if they’re better defensively because it can reduce the chances for us to score and even just keep possession – this can also lead to us drawing and losing games we should be able to win. The point you make is obviously also true in many cases but this is why I’m a bit hesitant to say Tomi over zinchenko in all cases (and I’ve always maintained Tomi is a brilliant defender)

  13. What many people need to realize is that for the most part, the left back area is usually occupied by Gabriel. Any keen fan will realize as they watch the game is that Raya,in possession is usually positioned to the left of his box- an area usually occupied by the left centre back. This slight tactical tweak then pushes Gabriel to the left. Essentially the back four is usually Gabriel-Raya-Saliba-White when in possession. Out of possession, the left back area is usually covered situationally by Rice,Gabriel,Zinchenko/Tomiyasu and occasionally by the Left winger. If the left back area was such a problem as some are making it out to be, we wouldn’t have the best defensive record in the league. As a matter of fact, most of the goals we’ve conceded this season have been from the left.

    In my opinion, any debate about Zinchenko/Tomiyasu as left backs just misses the point and doesn’t do justice to the inverted fullback tactic.The role they play (especially Zinchenko) is a lot more nuanced to be reduced to just left back. It’s an over simplification of a tactical approach that allows us to control games better. It is almost like a free role- you just need to look at the heat maps of said ‘left backs’ or just focus on their positioning throughout the match then you’ll see them popping up all over the place. I could be wrong but I think Gabriel spends just as much time if not more time in the left back area than Zinchenko- and all this is by design;by instruction from the coach. I urge my fellow fans to keenly observe the positioning of the goalkeeper,Gabriel and the inverted left back- you’ll realize what I’m talking about. It would have been easier to explain using graphics.

    That said, I think Tomi has grown into the inverted left back role( I insist on calling the role inverted). He has different strengths from Zinchenko as already mentioned in the article and I think that variation is nice to have. He can definitely start certain matches particularly against tricky wingers but I think the present dynamic where he comes on for Zinchenko works well for the team. It gives us the possibility of playing differently. I think it also reduces injury risk for both players who have had their injury struggles in the past. Zinchenko offers control in that role and is responsible for helping us retain possession. He was part of the good work we saw last season and all our famous wins came with him in the lineup-seems to me like it works.

  14. I will take Tomiyasu all day long as a defender, we all know ZInchenko’s strengths and we also know is weaknesses, he is not a left back. I also don’t think he is on the necessary level to play in midfield as a first team choice. He is a great utility squad player IMO, but no more than that.

  15. Zinchenko is a better at ball carry, progression and technique. Tomiyasu is better aerially, quicker and better defender. Zinchenko is better at inverting and Tomiyasu better than overlapping. We have 3 different variations at LB if include Jurrien Timber who is a combination of both Zinchenko and Tomiyasu at some extent. Proper squad depth and option. Game by game choices.

  16. Hear me out. Arsenal go 3-5-2. Tomiyasu, Saliba,Gabriel as the defenders. Zinchenko and White as Wing Backs. Odegaard, Rice, and Partey as the midfielders. And then Saka and Martinelli/Jesus as the forwards. Who says no

  17. About time for Tomiyasu.
    Zinchenko is so poor defensively
    Havertz as the striker. The other 2 are just not cutting it.

  18. Tomiyasu no argument about that though depending on the opponent. But overall, Tommy is by far a better defender. I think Arteta should think towards pushing Zinny in the middle

  19. Zinchonko averaged as a midfielder poor as a defender aterta should play player to their strength and form his competition and ruthlessness are lies wordplay.

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