Oleksandr Zinchenko produced a glittering debut performance in Arsenal’s 4-0 friendly victory over Chelsea last night.
Just a couple of days after his transfer from Manchester City was confirmed, Zinchenko was in Mikel Arteta’s starting line-up as the Gunners took on Premier League rivals Chelsea at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
There was some debate over the role that the 25-year-old would play for his new club. He played at left-back for City, but Guardiola has admitted his best and most natural position is in midfield – where he excels for the Ukraine national team – leading to some speculation that Zinchenko could rival Granit Xhaka for a spot in midfield.
“His main position is as a left-back,’ Arteta said on Friday.
“But within that position and within the formation that we have he can alter and occupy different spaces on the pitch. This is the main quality Alex has.”
And sure enough, Zinchenko was at left-back for the friendly against Chelsea.
The Ukrainian looked right at home in his new colours as Arsenal produced a sit-up-and-take-notice performance against Thomas Tuchel’s Blues.
Arsenal opened the scoring after just 15 minutes, with fellow new signing Gabriel Jesus executing a perfectly cheeky lob over Edouard Mendy, before Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Albert Sambi Lakonga added to the scoreline.
Zinchenko played the first 45 minutes and was withdrawn for Nuno Tavares at the break, but a half of football was enough to excite his new fans.
He had a few special moments, but his best came in the 9th minute with an absolutely stunning crossfield ball perfectly floated into the path of Saka, which created a dangerous opening for the Gunners.
“Yes, because we are here to win,” Arteta said after the signing was announced. “To win the way we want to play and Alex has both of them. He’s got the background, he’s got experience of doing that, but as well, he wants a big role.
“He’s in the stage of his career now that he’s looking for another challenge and we could offer him as a club that challenge, and I could offer him as a coach, that role in the team.”
That pass from Zinchenko 🔥 pic.twitter.com/cOCORIIz3g
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How Oleksandr Zinchenko’s stats in 21-22 compared with Granit Xhaka’s
Oleksandr Zinchenko is the midfield mentality monster ideal for Arsenal