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90 Minutes Of Oleksandr Zinchenko In Midfield - Analysing Arsenal's Newest Recruit

Evan Lloyd

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90 Minutes Of Oleksandr Zinchenko In Midfield - Analysing Arsenal's Newest Recruit

Arsenal have agreed a deal to sign Oleksandr Zinchenko, as widely reported.

The 25-year-old will join the Gunners for a fee that could reach £32m with add-ons.

Zinchenko has spent the majority of his Manchester City career playing at left-back, however, he is naturally a midfielder. 

With Arsenal's need for a left-sided central-midfielder and competition at left-back, it's possible we could see the Ukrainian adopting the midfield role for Arsenal and covering at left-back if needed.

While we haven't seen a lot of Zinchenko in midfield from his time in the Premier League, he does play there for Ukraine. Most notably, he stood out in a World Cup qualifying semi-final recently, against Scotland.

In an incredibly hostile atmosphere, a full Hampden Park, the midfielder made his presence known and helped his nation to the victory. 

I watched back the game, taking note of Zinchenko's most notable moments from the game to try to give us an idea of just what we can expect.

Scotland v Ukraine - June 1st 2022

Zinchenko is playing left-sided central-midfield in a Ukraine system which lines up in a 4-1-4-1. He wears the number 17.

Minute 2

Zinchenko picks up the ball, dropping into the left-back position. He fires a pass in between the lines that find Tsigankov, who flicks it on. The move breaks down but Zinchenko shows his willingness to receive the ball early on.

Minute 15

Zinchenko's presence has been limited thus far, with Ukraine struggling to gain a foothold in the game. This time, the midfielder shows for the ball in the Ukraine half, flicking a pass around Billy Gilmour and breaking through Scotland's midfield line.

Minute 18

Zinchenko has moved slightly further forward and more central at this point. He catches Scott McTominay dawdling on the ball and uses his body to unbalance the midfielder and steal the ball. 

Turning quickly, he plays the ball inside to his teammate, setting him onto the Scottish back-line. The move ends with a chance on goal that Craig Gordon smothers and turns away for a corner.

Zinchenko wins the ball back before playing inside.
Zinchenko wins the ball back before playing inside.

Minute 39

Ukraine have taken the lead now and are finding their tempo. Zinchenko keeps things ticking with constant touches and one-twos with his teammates. Some good pressing from him and Malinovsky sees Ukraine win the ball back. 

Possession finds it way back to Malinovsky and Zinchenko makes a diagonal run, getting in behind his man and finding space in the middle. He attempts to make a through pass to Yaremchuk but it is narrowly cut out.

Minute 47

Into the second half now, and Zinchenko starts it just how he started the first. Picking up the ball in the left-back position, he drives into the Scotland half before pinging a ball into the feet of Tsigankov.

Minute 53

Ukraine are two goals to the good now and really controlling the game. Zinchenko is seeing a lot of the ball and starting to pull the strings. This time he combines with Tsigankov, getting behind the Scotland midfield before finding Yaremchuk.

His combinations with Tsigankov have been frequent and effective. The possibility of similar chemistry with Gabriel Martinelli or Emile Smith Rowe is an intriguing thought.

Zinchenko combines with Tsigankov, before finding Yaremchuk.
Zinchenko combines with Tsigankov, before finding Yaremchuk.

Minute 54

Just a minute later Zinchenko links up with Tsigankov again, popping up to play a one-two with the winger. The pass releases Tsigankov into a crossing position, but it goes out for a corner.

Minute 69

A spell of dominance has seen Zinchenko without the ball but a chance for a break arrives as he wins the ball from McTominay. He receives the ball on the edge of the box and shows his brilliance by showing it to the Scot before dragging it away and playing it wide.

Zinchenko wins the ball before drawing the midfielder in and taking it past.
Zinchenko wins the ball before drawing the midfielder in and taking it past.

Minute 84

Scotland have found a goal and Ukraine are well and truly on the back foot. Zinchenko finds some space in the middle and plays the ball wide, before collecting it back and slowing down the play to release some pressure.

Minute 91

Ukraine really having to dig deep now. They get a rare chance to go forward and Zinchenko receives the ball on the left side of midfield.

In a moment of pure magic, he takes the ball past Stuart Armstrong and McTominay before poking through a pass to Zubkov who is free in the box. The striker somehow puts it wide.

Zinchenko beats two men before laying it into his teammate.
Zinchenko beats two men before laying it into his teammate.

Minute 94

Zinchenko, now wearing the captain's armband, ends the tie for Ukraine. He challenges and wins the ball on the edge of his own box, before charging forward.

He again slips in Zubkov with a precise pass between the lines and this time the striker makes no mistake. Ukraine are through to the World Cup qualifying final.

Zinchenko wins the ball and plays through Zubkov.
Zinchenko wins the ball and plays through Zubkov.

Zinchenko's versatility is an extremely attractive attribute.

However, he has very real quality in midfield and with Arsenal's interest in Youri Tielemans seemingly dwindling, there is a very real possibility that Zinchenko becomes Arsenal's first choice left-sided central-midfielder.

It's also worth noting that Mikel Arteta does like his left-back to play inverted, almost acting as a central-midfielder in build up.

What is clear is the fact that Arsenal are signing a very good player in Oleksandr Zinchenko. It continues their fine recruitment this summer, and they will hope to add more before the season starts.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Arsenal, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Ukraine, Scotland, Transfers, Mikel Arteta

Evan Lloyd
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