Wednesday, April 24, 2024

“I’m definitely not the super-happiest man” – Zinchenko on his recent form

Oleksandr Zinchenko admits he’s not entirely happy with his form this season but he insists it’s nothing he’s not experienced and overcome before.

The Ukraine international continues to be pivotal to the way Arsenal builds play from the back – he repeatedly inverts from his left-back position to add numbers in the centre of the park – but has been criticised on occasion for his defensive positioning.

West Ham (League Cup), Aston Villa and Liverpool have all scored from attacks targeting the 27-year-old’s area of the pitch and he was also guilty of giving the ball away in the penalty area leading to Wolves’ late consolation in early December.

“I’m definitely not the super-happiest man on the planet, but I know there are some moments when you have ups and downs,” Zinchenko told The Athletic.

“I’m pretty sure that everything will be fine because I’ve been in this position a couple of times in my life and I know how to behave on that.”

Having asked Zinchenko to patrol central areas, Mikel Arteta is clearly not blind to the pitfalls. However, to mitigate the risks, the rest of the team need to be alert to open spaces if possession is lost.

“This is one of the parts which we are also working so hard about,” added Zinchenko.

“Because, if you step inside in midfield to make some advantage and we suddenly lose the ball somewhere, you need to reorganise well.”

As things stand, Zinchenko doesn’t have anybody breathing down his neck to take his place. Jurrien Timber is injured, Takehiro Tomiyasu is on international duty and Jakub Kiwior doesn’t look comfortable being anything other than an orthodox defender.

That will change and Mikel Arteta has proved time and time again that he’s not afraid to cull those he feels can be upgraded. That said, Zinchenko isn’t afraid of the challenge.

“I know how to deal with (the competition) and there is only one direction to work: even harder and at the end of the season, people are going to judge you, but I’m focusing on the team,” he says.

“You need to look at yourself. What you have done well? What you need to avoid for the future, like some mistakes. But even if you play good, there is always space to improve. The key is just being the best version of yourself every single day.”


To read The Athletic’s full interview by Adam Leventhal, click here.

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Honestly, and I have just recently given this a thought, there might be other factors that can play a part in his lack of consistency this season. Zinchenko has to cope with an unbearably tough mental burden that is that an evil force is trying to wipe out an entire generation of his in Ukraine. Can’t imagine what has he been going through over the past 2 years. He is a real hero and we must support him with all our hearts!


Always believe in your soul, Oleksandr


Yeah, it’s been a bit tiresome to hear people complain that he’s not defensively solid when he’s being asked to be somewhere else on the pitch. Sure, if he’s said “No worries, boss – I’ll get back and cover every time despite having to be a lot further upfield”.. then we have a problem. What’s more likely is that when he’s not in his corner office, someone else is supposed to cover for him. And.. if that’s not happening, that’s not really Zinny’s fault. The truth lies somewhere in between, but when “something” on the pitch doesn’t work, it’s often… Read more »


Sometimes it is a good thing to use “orthodox” defenders or the boring and traditional way of defending. Sometimes not…

Heavenly Chapecoense

Getting beaten in every one-on-one in our box, what does that have to do with offensive duties?


No exaggeration here at all.


I don’t even think he gets beaten that often. He’s a decent defender. His problem is that sometimes he is too casual ON the ball in buildup and creates danger by giving it away in the right channel with very little cover.


The main issues are him blindly passing the ball to the opposition a couple of times a match and putting in a half arsed attempts to defend a 1 on 1s. It’s not to do with his positioning.


Lol..”Blindly passing the ball to the opposition a couple of times a match”.
Nothing about the rest of his touches, which are usually the most of all players on the pitch and the incredible defense splitting passes he makes with regularity.

Johnny 4 Hats

I feel like Zinchenko is a tool we should be using in 75% of our games. But I just don’t like him in games where we will likely get transitioned quickly or have to play with our backs to the wall.

It would be so interesting to have seen how much game time Timber would’ve got at LB had he not got crocked so immediately. My money is on quite a lot.


I agee in principle, however I think there are other thigs to consider also…
For example: We hardly use White in the same way as we use Zinny, but I don’t think we could complain about our right flank.
Plus I think Zinchenko’s difficulties aren’t stemming only from his form, but from his abilities too (speed, concentration, strength).
My dream full back quartet would be a combo of White, Timber + Zinny, Davies (or somebody like him… Baldé, Theo Hernández etc. for example)

A Different George

I’m not sure how many games we will have to play “with our backs to the wall.” Liverpool didn’t do that to us and neither did City, so I guess that leaves, maybe, Madrid and Bayern. Against a team that is both highly skilled and relies on fast counters that target his side (which pretty much means Liverpool and Mo Salah) we might indeed benefit from a more “defensive” fullback, as Tomiyasu demonstrated. But, there aren’t many of those teams either. Zinchenko’s defensive weakness, it seems to me, is almost always the result of a momentary lapse in concentration or… Read more »

Sean Johansen

This a hundred times over. So tired of that back-handed compliment people throw out (without even noticing they’re doing it)- “Zinchenko’s vital for 75% of our league games”. I’d love to know more about that mystery 25% of games where playing Zinny is apparently the equivalent of throwing Andre Santos out there. Yes, if we’re expecting backs to the wall stuff and we need to lock down that defence, you’d have Tomi there. Like you said, Trent to Salah at Anfield may just fall into that category. But beyond that I’m genuinely struggling. The noise around his defensive shortcomings feel… Read more »


He’s the outfield version of David Raya right now. Good have scapegoats. The ironic part is that our defense is excellent and has been all season, and that’s based on every statistical metric there is on defense. And here we are scapegoating our struggles on a unicorn LB who is absolutely integral to the style play we play (particularly when we’re at our most lethal) and a goalie who is helping to prevent chances before they even occur through excellent distribution and cross claiming. The fact is we’re not scoring enough goals. I freaking love Gabi, Saka and Jesus. All… Read more »

Cranky Colin

Is Tomi injured.
Haven’t seen him on the Japan team/ bench


He was on bench on Friday


Got to feel for this fella, asked to do duel roles of being defensive and creative, a thoroughly strong minded driven professional, with all he has to deal with his country at war he still asks more of himself in our shirt, i for 1 want him starting every time..


The problem is that he doesn’t do either role as well as someone who IS a proper left back or left midfielder. His mistakes are costly and he puts a real burden on the other three defenders to cover for him. So we would probably be better with a proper left back. I think that I saw somewhere that for all the talk of his passing and his contribution to the team, he has had only a very small number of assists overall. He had two assists last season and one goal and only one assist and one goal so… Read more »


Zinchenko has been so pivotal to our improvement over the last seasons and continues to contribute so much in terms of this mystical ‘unorthodox’ or surprise element and creating overloads and linking play. I think he does have a couple of weaknesses. He can sometimes dawdle on the ball, lacking awareness and allowing his pocket to be picked. Or make a poor pass in a defensive position when he needs to play safe. And clearly without the ball his positioning isn’t as good as some other LBs, and he has a tendency to lunge in – meaning he is dribbled… Read more »

Heavenly Chapecoense

Can we get Benzema until the end of the season?

El Mintero

Always lots of misplaced love for this guy. Let’s face it, he’s very average. He can’t defend for shit. And his passing is generally awful. Every team targets our left flank every time they see him starting. He’s a soft touch. Pep sold him to us on the cheap. That should tell you everything about his abilities. I’d actually try and sell him this window and reinvest in some cnt that can actually put the ball in the net.

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