Journalist Charles Watts believes Oleksandr Zinchenko will be reinstalled to the Arsenal starting lineup for their next Premier League match.
The Ukrainian came off the bench in Arsenal’s 3-1 win on Boxing Day having missed the club’s mid-season friendlies through injury, but he got minutes under his belt to help secure victory in the closing stages.
Kieran Tierney started the match, while occasional stand-in left-back Takehiro Tomiyasu was still absent following the World Cup, but Watts expects the former Manchester City star to return to the starting XI for their next clash on New Year’s Eve.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Watts highlighted the importance of Zinchenko ahead of a tough run of fixtures, starting with Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
He said: “To have Zinchenko back fit and actually playing and being there, I think it’s just vitally important. He’s got such a big role to play, I think, Zinchenko.
“I think he comes back into the team as well now he’s fit. Obviously, Tierney started in the game against West Ham. I’ll be very surprised if Zinchenko doesn’t start providing he didn’t have any sort of setback from the injury.
“I’d be really, really surprised if Zinchenko doesn’t start against Brighton on New Year’s Eve and I think he’ll be so, so important. Mikel will be absolutely delighted to have him back ahead of this crucial, crucial month.”
TIF Thoughts on Zinchenko…
The stats show that the £32m signing from Manchester City has been excellent for Arsenal this season, with Zinchenko excelling on the ball in Mikel Arteta’s system, which requires him to play as a hybrid defender and midfielder.
He ranks in the top 4% of European full-backs for passes, progressive passes and assists, highlighting his top-class ability in possession, and it is clear why Arteta brought him in.
Now he is available, he looks set to slot straight back into the lineup, with tough matches against Brighton, Newcastle United, Spurs and Manchester United coming up within the next month, so this is indeed a huge boost for Arteta and Arsenal.