Kieran Tierney in awe of Oleksandr Zinchenko’s ability to play as inverted left-back

Arsenal ace Kieran Tierney has heaped praise on Oleksandr Zinchenko due to his ability to play as an inverted left-back.

Zinchenko joined the Gunners from Manchester City in a surprise transfer in 2022, and he has since been the club’s regular choice from the left-back role.

Tierney’s playing time was reduced last term as a result. He also found himself behind Jakub Kiwior in the pecking order during the final phase of the season.

In an interview with Daily Mail, the Scotland international said that Zinchenko is one of the biggest creators, having adapted to the inverted left-back role.

The former Celtic man added that he was ‘alien’ to playing in central midfield, having started off as a winger and Zinchenko ‘makes it look so easy’ on the field.

He told Daily Mail: “At Arsenal the left back can be one of the most central players in the team. If it’s Oleksandr Zinchenko then he is one of the biggest creators from a central position.”

“When that got introduced it was alien to me. I had never played centre midfield, I started as a winger. I was trying to learn that when I was at Arsenal.

“When you see how well it works it is hard to question it. My choice was to just get on with it and learn and I got to practice it with one of the best. It’s so natural to Zinchenko, he makes it look so easy.”

Zinchenko has made 60 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, registering two goals and four assists. His goal involvements are less, but he makes a difference with his presence.

The €42 million-rated star tends to hand the club with a man advantage in midfield with his ability to invert from left-back. His strong distribution skills have made him a perfect fit for the position.

Of course, the Ukrainian has been defensively vulnerable at times, but manager Mikel Arteta has been prepared to trust him as he has more merits than demerits. It is good to see Tierney appreciating him.

Tierney, currently on loan at Real Sociedad, was one of the club’s best performers at one point of time. His overlapping runs out wide and strong defensive contributions were lauded by the fans.

However, the club have outgrown him with the need for modern full-backs. Tierney could not fit into the manager’s plans. It looks very likely that he will be sold on a permanent basis this summer.

Arsenal currently have Kiwior and Takehiro Tomiyasu to provide back-up to Zinchenko. There is also Jurrien Timber, who is expected to return after a serious knee injury next month.

Stats from Transfermarkt.com

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