Zinchenko behind Arsenal success as Scholes hits nail on the head

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Arsenal’s signing of Oleksandr Zinchenko has played a major role in their success this season. The Ukraine star has been a transformative influence on Mikel Arteta’s squad and Paul Scholes has now highlighted how important he has been.

Zinchenko joined Arsenal from Manchester City last summer for a fee of around £32million. That now appears to be nothing short of a bargain.

He has overtaken Kieran Tierney as the first choice on the left side of defence. But he is so much more than just a left-back in Arteta’s side.

Zinchenko quite often runs the game. He is so rarely in a conventional left-back position and you can see why Arteta pinpointed him as a top target.

He was a squad player at City, never really nailing down a starting spot on a regular basis. But the 26-year-old is arguably the first name on the team sheet in this Arsenal side.

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It was a genius acquisition by Arteta. And after Sunday’s 3-2 win over Manchester United, which again extended Arsenal’s lead at the top to five points, Scholes explained his shock at City letting him leave to join a rival.

Scholes told Premier League Productions: “Zinchenko, great experience, as he said and he is enjoying his football. You see how well he is playing.

“I was going to ask him then, ‘is he a left-back or a central midfielder?’ I don’t know. Exactly [he is equally comfortable in both]. He is playing it fantastically well and is a big asset to Arsenal.

“I am a bit surprised Man City sold him with the big influence he has had. And Man City have struggled a little at left-back, which is even more surprising.

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“Normally they don’t have that big of an influence, do they?! [left-backs at new clubs]. But he has had a massive influence, not just on the pitch, but off the pitch as well.”

Zinchenko won four Premier League titles in five seasons at City. And he is aiming to spread all that experience around the Arsenal squad.

Speaking after Sunday’s win, Zinchenko explained his message to his team-mates shortly after he arrived. He said: “When I arrived, the quality I saw, I realised that we have everything to achieve the big things.

“I started to speak in the dressing room, ‘forget top three, we need to think about the title’. Some of them were laughing, but no-one is laughing now and all of us are dreaming. But still like I said there’s a lot of games to play.”

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