Friday, June 14, 2024

Arteta: Jesus and Zinchenko experience continues to be key

It’s no secret that on joining Arsenal, Oleksandr Zinchenko observed his new teammates and immediately parked talk of grabbing a Champions League spot.

Having won the Premier League four times in five years at Manchester City, he felt the Gunners had enough quality to aim higher and urged them to target the league title instead.

It seemed fanciful in the early months of the season but as the Gunners built up a head of steam, the Ukrainian went public with his ambition.

Referencing Arsenal being known as a “top four, top four” club, he told reporters in November, “I really want to kill and destroy this stereotype.”

By January, even the most sceptical members of Mikel Arteta’s squad were on board with the left-back’s desire to go for top spot. “No one is laughing now and all of us is dreaming,” he said after the 3-2 win over Manchester United.

Three months later and Arsenal are within touching distance of fulfilling Zinchenko’s dream. Six games remain, the lead at the top is five points and a win at the Etihad against the team he left in the summer will swing the odds back in the Gunners’ favour despite their recent wobble.

The question ahead of Wednesday night’s mammoth clash is whether Mikel Arteta’s young squad can get the job done. Without a doubt, the Spaniard thinks the experience of Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus, who also won four titles at City, will be vital.

“For sure. I think experience is key when you’ve been in those moments, to handle those moments and to understand the importance of certain things when you are competing in a football match,” said the Spaniard in Tuesday’s press conference. 

“The capacity to transmit as those two players have done for the rest of the team – a lot of things that are very, very important. Some of the rest of them are young but they’ve played a lot of games already.”

Asked how he makes use of the experience of his summer signings, Arteta made clear that there’s no additional emphasis being placed on Jesus and Zinchenko at this point; their presence has been felt since August.

“In a very natural way. Since they came in after two or three weeks, they said – because of where they’ve been – they said ‘we can win this league’.

“So it’s not something we have started to feel or they have tried to transmit – and I didn’t know that but they said that to me a few months ago. It’s been going on since August, it’s not something that now you rely on, this process has been coming for a long time.”

It remains to be seen whether Manchester City pay the ultimate price for the sale of Zinchenko and Jesus to Arsenal. For the moment, Guardiola insists there are no regrets.

“The club took the decisions what they believe they had to take,” he said. 

“When these kind of transfers happen it’s because the three parties agree, it’s not just about one part.

“The players are agreed, which is the most important thing, the club wants to sell, the club wants to buy, so they are agreed.

“So the club take the decisions before you ask the question – is it a risk?

“So they’re happy, we’re happy so in the end we don’t have any complaints about Gabriel and Alex and where they are and what they have done for this club in the last years.”

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Qwaliteee

These two really will be worth their weight in gold tomorrow night – both on the pitch and off it.

COYG

Heavenly Chapecoense

Saka too has experience through his big games with the national team although they don’t win more than Arsenal does.

Badaab

I’d like to see zinchenko use this experience a bit more to play with the team instead of going on walkabout, particularly if xhaka is sidelined for any period of time.

Billymac

If Xhaka can’t play, putting Zinchenko in midfield on the left hand side would allow us to play a proper left back and not leave our defence as exposed down that side. It would make Gabriel’s life a lot easier as he wouldn’t be dragged out wide left to cover for Zinchenko and it wouldn’t leave a hole in the middle when he does. Man City could cause havoc otherwise. Mind you, the Bayern games showed that if the Germans had a decent goal scorer they could have grabbed a few goals in both games so there’s definitely hope that… Read more »

Ealing

let’s hope MA agrees and KT starts at left-back (anyway)

A Different George

Yeah, it must drive Arteta crazy to see Zinchenko constantly move into the midfield to give us an extra man there and control the game. And he keeps doing it; it’s almost as if that was actually Arteta’s plan.

Billymac

I’m sure it is but it doesn’t always work and it won’t work against City. I also think what must drive him crazy is when our wandering left back saunters over to the right hand side of midfield and leaves a huge gaping hole down our left hand side. And I don’t think Gabriel enjoys having to mark Zinchenko’s man and try and play CB as well. The best way to think of it is to ask yourself two questions: Would Zinchenko be first choice left back based on his defensive qualities? Would he merit a place in midfield based… Read more »

Chippy

I’m a big fan of rob holding and what he brings to the squad. A man who played a big part in an FA cup final win will always be a legend. However i would be more hopeful about tommorow if Mikel throws a curveball with the line up. I’d like to see benny moved to cb and KT come in at right back with the mandate to push into a back three out of possession with zinny moving into midfield. I think KT’s defensive abilities and pace can be invaluable tommorow against grealish or Mahrez

DWD

I’m interested to see how KT would play on the right, but I don’t City away is the game to test it!!

Bleeding Gums Murphy

With all due respect to holding and I was at the mertesacker final and he was great alongside the bfg, I would move white in alongside Gabriel. They played the whole of last season together there and were together when dominated city at the emerates and shot our selfs in the four at the end. Holding is great in last twenty minutes if we are defending a lead. If he starts tonight city will target him and we may turn into the keystone cops at the back once again. Come on you gunners. Attack and don’t stop attacking

A Different George

I’ve said this before, and I know I’m not alone: I love Holding’s spirit and determination but . . . Even in the match where we most remember that spirit and determination– there’s a reason we think of it as the Mertesacker final, not the Holding final.

Edzo

If he could defend that would help, especially since Holding is now in the back four as opposed to Saliba.

Alex

Too emotional.

Please move Jesus to the right as competition for Saka and bring in someone who scores 65% of their chances.

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