When both Granit Xhaka and Tierney are fit we have a very strong left side, but with the former turning 30 in a few months time and the latter so injury prone, we really could do with a quality left-footed player who can play in both positions without any problem. So who could this be?
Yes our imminent new signing, Oleksandr Volodymyrovych Zinchenko, seems to be the right player for Arsenal and he would add a lot of strength and options to the team. He is the typical kind of player who can be in that all important 12-18 player group and put pressure on the first-11 team constantly. Soares, Elneny, Leno/Turner, Holding, ESR are also such players. A team that will play around 50 games a season simply needs such a ‘first-reserves’ team. I doubt that Zinchenko will join us on that basis but with Tierney and Xhaka needing regular rest/replacements due to injury, I would imagine Arteta is able to offer him plenty of first team exposure. Furthermore, Oleksandr – there are all the letters of the alphabet which are also in ‘Arsenal’ in that first name, and who can say that?! – is not one of those demanding types but will work hard to claim his place. And although I am a huge fan of both Kieran and Granit, they can both be displaced if Oleksandr takes on the challenge to become a first-11 player. Anyway, there will plenty of games in the the cup competions too so everyone will get enough games under their belt.
Zinchenko has a great ability to remain calm in tight spaces and find the right solution; he can also dribble through the lines and in the modern game these two qualities are simply crucial. He is left footed and we need more of those in our team, and he is a fighter too with an eye for a final pass, so what is not to like?! At a reportedly £30m investment I reckon he will help significantly in moving us to the next stage.
The last two seasons Zinchenko averaged 30 club games, with about half of them in the League. This tells us that Guardiola used him mostly as a squad player who he regarded as a safe pair of hands. Oleksandr will want more now and Arteta must have promised him this. Of course, Mikel knows him well and their will be mutual belief that the Basque can get the very best out of the Ukranian now that he is reaching the best five years of his career. At times it may have looked like Arteta is not good at managing egos/people but I guess this can put to bed forever now. There is no doubt a steeliness about Arteta and those who mess with him will end up leaving the club, but those who are willing to work hard and buy into his vision will get all the support by him. That is the only way to establish a culture change and when the likes of Eddie, the Ode, Jesus etc decide to commit to the club we all know that he is capable of building excellent working relationships and offer a bright future for them and the club.
Zinchenko is of course not yet a Gunner so we have to remain patient. The signs are good though and if the club can add another CF before the closing of the TW we can truly say Arteta has a team to push for third place and a maybe a cup too. OOH TO BE!