Oleksandr Zinchenko’s potential return could be the key solution to Arsenal’s recent goalscoring issues.
Arsenal had the chance to secure top spot in their Europa League group with a game to spare, if they could have avoided defeat against PSV Eindhoven. But, alongside a 2-0 loss at the hands of the Dutch side, it was also a very poor performance to match.
The defeat means that Arsenal have it all to do in the final group stage game against FC Zurich to secure top spot. But it wasn’t just the result that was worrying for the Gunners, it was the performance itself.
Mikel Arteta’s side have now only scored three goals in the last four games, showing a lack of attacking intent. But, the potential of Oleksandr Zinchenko could prove key in reversing the Gunners’ fortunes.
Arsenal have lacked the cutting edge in the final third, and the Ukrainian had been offering extra creativity from deep earlier in the season. His arrival immediately meant that Kieran Tierney was displaced due to the new role Arteta expected of his left-back and it worked perfectly in the opening weeks of the campaign.
The Gunners were on the hunt for a new left-back ahead of the Premier League campaign in the summer transfer window. It was an area of weakness last season, and Edu had to solve the issue in the transfer market. He did this by signing Zinchenko from Manchester City for a reported £30million fee.
Despite Zinchenko starting at left-back in Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Spurs, he has been absent for the Gunners’ last seven fixtures due to a calf injury. Zinchenko had featured in every Premier League match for the Gunners since making the transfer switch from Manchester City until he was ruled out with an injury against Fulham in Arsenal’s fourth game of the season.
But in Zinchenko’s absence, Tierney had slotted into the left-back role and had proven to be a useful alternative as the Gunners sat at the top of the Premier League.
Takehiro Tomiyasu had also put himself into the mix, as in the last three Premier League games, the Japanese international had started as a left-back. With Arsenal playing against teams such as Liverpool and Leeds, who are dangerous on the wings, having a more defensive-minded player in Tomiyasu at left-back worked.
But, this also meant that the Gunners were impacted offensively, as Arsenal haven’t scored more than one goal in a game since the 3-2 victory over Liverpool in early October. In the early weeks of the season, Zinchenko played a major part in Arsenal’s build-up play as he would join the midfield to increase the options when on the attack.
This has been missed in recent weeks as Arsenal have lacked a cutting edge in front of goal. Having an additional option to create more chances certainly would have been beneficial, and Zinchenko would have been able to offer that.
According to Simon Collings from the Daily Express, it’s understood that Zinchenko has done some running, but not yet returned to full training. The reintroduction of the Ukrainian in the side could prove key to Arsenal re-finding their scoring touch.