Mikel Arteta says he could use Arsenal defender in unnatural position after latest injury setback

Will Mikel Arteta chance another player
Will Mikel Arteta chance another player's position?

Mikel Arteta has hinted that Oleksander Zinchenko could be the new midfielder at Arsenal. He believes that the Ukrainian can play in the position and is open to experimenting.

Speaking to the media ahead of their match against RC Lens in the UEFA Champions League, Arteta was questioned about the possibility of Zinchenko playing in the midfield. He lauded the journalist for the question and said (via GOAL):

"He does play in that role coming from a different position in the attacking phase. He doesn’t play there in the defensive, stable situations, because we believe we have other players to use there. It is a possibility, it’s a good question, because he’s done it."

The manager had heaped praise on the 26-year-old Ukranian earlier this month as well, saying after the 3-1 win over Burnley (via Football London):

“Very happy with him. Especially against these teams, the fluidity, threat that he brings, the spaces that he occupies and opens for other players is critical. I really liked how defensively committed he was today. He’s the first on the ball, that’s why he scores the goal. That’s what we need from him.”

Zinchenko has been Arsenal's go-to left-back this season, following an injury to Jurrien Timber. The Gunners manager now also has Kai Havertz as an option after the German recently played in the position for his national team.

Mikel Arteta urged to push Oleksander Zinchenko into midfield by former Arsenal star

Former Arsenal star Adrian Clarke believes it is ideal for the Gunners if Oleksander Zinchenko plays as a midfielder. He said the defender is not offering much defensively but can work as a left-sided midfielder. Speaking on the Handbrake Off podcast last month, Clarke said:

“In those situations where Mikel [Arteta] doesn’t feel that [Oleksandr] Zinchenko is offering enough defensively, rather than taking him off, I’d rather put him into that left-sided number eight role and keep him on. He’s got that progressive pass in him; he’s an unlocker of defenses."

He added:

“Rather than always take him off when he’s struggling defensively, could we then use him just in a further forward position as that left-sided number eight? The bottom line is he’s the one that’s more likely to play that killer pass in the final 15, 20 minutes of a game than anyone else. It’s just an idea to throw out there.”

Arsenal are doing well this season and are currently on top of the Premier League table. The Gunners are also at the top of their UEFA Champions League group and can seal a place in the next round with a win on Wednesday.

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Edited by Parag Jain