Ex-Spurs star now orders Arsenal fans to show more ‘respect’ to £32m ‘leader’

Former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Jamie O’Hara has now spoken out in defence of Arsenal star Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Oleksandr Zinchenko did not have his best ever game in an Arsenal shirt against Wolves on Saturday. Going forward, the Ukrainian left-back was still able to make an impact. After some sharp interplay with Gabriel Jesus on the left-flank, Zinchenko was able to pick out Martin Odegaard in the box. The club captain duly swept the ball into the back of the net, putting the hosts 2-0 up.

At the back, however, Zinchenko was liable for one key error which let Wolves back into the match. In the 86th minute, the 26-year-old gave the ball away in the Arsenal penalty area. Matheus Cunha was then able to take advantage and pull a goal back for Wolves, setting up a nervy finish for the hosts.

According to WhoScored statistics, Zinchenko was dispossessed three time against Wolves, more than any other Arsenal player on the pitch.

Zinchenko arrived at the Emirates Stadium in a £32 million move from Manchester City in the summer of 2022. In his time at the club, under Mikel Arteta, Zinchenko has revolutionised the way the left-back role is performed at Arsenal.

The 58-cap Ukraine international routinely inverts from his left-back position, bolstering Arsenal’s numbers in the middle of the park. He is then given a great deal of freedom to roam forward and act as an additional playmaker in the final third. Arteta will not move Zinchenko away from this position.

Arsenal make calculated gamble by playing Oleksandr Zinchenko

He has transformed the way Arsenal play. However, his defensive frailties can be a problem, as they proved to be against Wolves. Arteta will feel that the positive aspects of Zinchenko’s game make the risk of picking him as part of the defensive line worthwhile.

Speaking after the Gunners’ win over Wolves, Jamie O’Hara offered Zinchenko his support. Speaking on talkSPORT (02/12/2023, 19:10), the former Spurs ace said, “you have got to appreciate, though, he knows how to win things. He has been at Manchester City, he has won massive tournaments, massive trophies, you have got to respect what he has done for you.”

“He has come in, he has been a leader in the group, he took you to another level, I think he is a good player. Yeah, defensively, he lets you down, but he has been a midfielder pretty much his whole life. He has reverted to a left-back because he can be used there.”

Zinchenko certainly brings plenty of winning experience to the dressing room. In his time on the books at Manchester City he won four Premier League titles, amongst other honours. Having that kind of experience in the group will be vital if Arsenal are to successfully pull off a title triumph of their own this season.

The positives of having Zinchenko in the side outweigh the negatives. However, Arteta will be keen to see the player take greater care with the ball when it is in the Gunners’ own defensive third from now on.

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