Arsenal left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko was substituted at half-time in the Gunners’ 2-2 draw against Chelsea on Saturday evening.
The Ukrainian international struggled defensively in the opening 45 minutes and manager Mikel Arteta decided to replace him for the second half with Takehiro Tomiyasu.
Supporters on X have been fiercely debating whether Zinchenko deserves to keep his place in the starting eleven, with many feeling that he is too much of a liability off the ball:
drop him a.s.a.p start tomiyasu instead
— MEO (@_axbyc) October 22, 2023
i need Timber back yesterday
— 🇸🇱 (@shelovesdkay) October 22, 2023
I don’t understand why Arteta hasn’t tried him in midfield next to Rice. Given his attributes, he’d make a great DM.
— Yuvraj Sooch (@YuvrajSooch) October 21, 2023
That’s why we bought Timber
— Samarth (@_sg44) October 21, 2023
Zinny is always getting exposed
— CriticalFan (@Warrahuman) October 22, 2023
I have seen him make too many mistakes when defending especially in big games. Timber looks a solid option in that position
— Rachit Kaushik (@gooner_rachit) October 21, 2023
He need to sit on bench for now.
— Dee 🥶 (@de_mola100) October 21, 2023
Zinchenko is not suited for every game
The 25-year-old does play a key role as the inverted fullback. In certain matches, when the opposition don’t offer as much of a threat going forward, Zinchenko can take up positions in the middle of the pitch, giving his teammates an extra option to pass to.
Consequently, Arsenal are able to keep possession of the ball and take control of the game. However, there are certain matches, especially against the bigger teams, where vacating the left-hand side of defence is not an option, and Arteta had to make the decision to take off Zinchenko at half-time at Stamford Bridge.
Is the Arsenal star a liability defensively?
The Ukrainian started his career as a midfielder and, while that means he does have a good passing range, he doesn’t really have the instincts of a defender.
It’s a risk/reward strategy to play Zinchenko as a fullback and, against Chelsea, Arteta clearly thought the negatives outweighed the positives.