Arsenal

Mikel Arteta faces brutal Arsenal decision vs West Ham as Gary Neville comments speak volumes

Mikel Arteta is set to be without Kai Havertz when Arsenal face West Ham after Christmas, but there is another player that needs to be taken out of the starting XI
Liverpool exposed a clear weakness in Arsenal’s starting XI at Anfield on Saturday evening. Despite the Gunners taking a crucial point from their trip to Merseyside to remain at the top of the Premier League table over Christmas, Mikel Arteta must now make a brutal decision ahead of their clash against West Ham.

Oleksandr Zinchenko was the weak link in defence. The Ukraine international struggled to contain Mohamed Salah throughout the game and he may face yet another difficult test up against Hammers’ star Mohammed Kudus next week.
Gary Neville highlighted Zinchenko’s problems at Anfield after labelling the Arsenal defender as a ‘liability’ after his performance against Liverpool. After allowing Salah to cut in on his favoured left foot and fire past David Raya to equalise in the first half, Neville tore into the full-back once again as Zinchenko lost possession on the edge of his box in the second half.
The former Manchester United defender said: “They have options on the bench, you need to just hook Zinchenko, you have to look to the bench now, he’s a liability. He loses the ball again against a player like Salah who is world class, what is he doing trying to play in his own half against Liverpool in this type of atmosphere, in this type of game?”When under pressure with Liverpool on top, Zinchenko struggled, but when in possession the 27-year-old completed 85 per cent of his passes in the final third – the highest percentage of any Arsenal player. The Ukraine defender’s issues were not with his passing, but more his composure on the ball and his ability to contain Salah throughout the game.

“We gave so many balls away after regaining it,” he said in his post-match press conference without specifically referencing Zinchenko. “That’s the worst moment against them because they are really good on the counter-press. We lost it in areas that are prohibited against them and we could have been punished.”
Zinchenko’s performance left many wondering whether Jurrien Timber or Takehiro Tomiyasu would have struggled in a similar manner against Salah. The latter had previously performed well against the Egyptian winger in past fixtures against Liverpool, whilst Timber started the season at left-back and, if fit, would’ve been likely to start up against Salah.

At present, Arteta’s clear option to replace Zinchenko would be Jakub Kiwior. The Polish defender is capable of playing at left-back and could be given the chance when the Gunners take on West Ham on Thursday, December 28.
Kudus will offer a similar threat to that of Salah, cutting in from the wing with his trickery and pace. The Arsenal boss simply has to drop Zinchenko, or he risks the left-back getting exposed once again which could see the Gunners drop points at a crucial stage of the season.

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